Introducing… Alexandra King
…. a participant in the Faculty of Human Sciences Partnership Program pilot for EDUC264
I’m in my second year of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and minoring in Modern History. I’m passionate about social justice and human rights issues, and I love getting out of the city into the open spaces and slower-paced lifestyle of the country. I’m also a bit of a book hoarder and a news nerd, so when I’m not at uni you can either find me glued to the screen watching current affairs or with my nose in one of the countless books I couldn’t stop myself from buying.
What do you see as the major challenges for students at university today?
One of the biggest challenges for students is the changing value of a university degree. In the past, students were essentially guaranteed to get a job upon graduation just because they had that all-important piece of paper. But with the proliferation of tertiary education in recent decades, having a degree no longer separates job candidates from one another. Many students are asking themselves what the point is of slaving away for three or four years, being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in HECS debts if you can’t get a job in your chosen field at the end of it. This just creates apathy in students towards achieving academic success. Many people just see each subject as another box to tick before they can get that piece of paper that really doesn’t mean as much any more.
You’ve recently joined the Partnership Program pilot where you will be seeking feedback from your unit peers and collaborating with Unit Convenors to make positive improvements to the learning experience. What motivated you to get involved?
I think there’s a real need for universities to include student voices in the academic process. Often student voices are minimised or ignored, especially when there is no accountability on the university’s side to follow up student concerns or feedback. The Student Partnership Program is a way to value students and their contributions on the same level as academic staff. It provides a collaborative platform for students and teachers to work together and breaks down the strict hierarchy that exists between them.
We’re taught in teacher training that education is not a one-way street – it’s a reciprocal relationship between teachers and students. We’re also taught how important it is to provide an engaging and collaborative learning environment in the classroom, so it only makes sense to practice this in our own education.
What does employability mean to you?
Being an employable graduate means having the skills to work successfully in your chosen field. To me, abilities like creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, leadership and communication are more important than any knowledge you gain while at university. The disruption caused by the internet and digital technologies means employers are no longer focused on what you know, but what capabilities you have and how well you can perform them. It’s no longer good enough to have just the piece of paper, you have to come out of university with real-world skills.
What has been the most memorable experience with your studies to date?
Apart from the Student Partnership Program which has been great so far, I’m also involved in the Global Leadership Program. I really enjoy the combination of colloquium and experiential opportunities. It’s given me a chance to put my hand up for things I wouldn’t have normally thought about doing, or thought I wouldn’t have enough time to do, like going to seminars on interesting topics, or volunteering for events like the Sydney Writers’ Festival.