Theme: Engage-Empower-Evolve: Pushing the Frontiers of Student Affairs”
Students are at the heart and soul of student affairs professionals. The diverse student body demands passion, diligence and strong commitment from these professionals in their day-to-day operations. They are the unsung heroes behind student success, providing the best of services and assistance to the student population.
The 4th Industrial Revolution impacts higher education in significant and profound ways. As a result, issues and challenges faced by student affairs professionals today may be different from those experienced years ago. Amidst increased expectations, reduced funding and greater interdependency among stakeholders, these professionals need to swiftly adapt to change and deliver. Through international networks such as the Asia Pacific Student Services Association (APSSA), the student affairs professionals are able to build connections and camaraderie with one another, enabling them to be engaged in current developments related to their core work, subsequently supporting their personal and professional development through peer learning and exchange of experience.
The 16th APSSA International Conference 2018 calls for participants to look at the changing roles of student affairs, and work collectively towards development of holistic, balanced and entrepreneurial students with the right attitude and competencies for the 21st century. The theme was specially chosen in view of current developments in higher education, which affect student affairs professionals irrespective of geographical contexts and higher education systems. It is argued that participants have to better connect with their stakeholders (engage), be confident in their line of work (empower), and are eager to embrace transformation (evolve). At the end of the conference, it is hoped that participants would have a renewed sense of purpose towards their role. This would then motivate them to identify fresh insights, innovative approaches and room for improvement for the benefit of students under their care.
Five subthemes have been identified for the staff track of the 16th APSSA International Conference 2018. The five subthemes are as follows:
1. Employability – Engaging and Empowering for Future Careers
This subtheme focuses on the role of student affairs professionals in supporting students’ career development. Discussions under this subtheme include, but not limited to, graduate employability, industry engagement, career services, entrepreneurial ventures, internships and industrial trainings, as well as innovative models to prepare students for their future careers.
2. Wellness and mental health – Current Challenges, Future Opportunities
This subtheme concentrates on the role of student affairs professionals in monitoring and supporting students’ mental well-being. Discussions under this subtheme include, but not limited to, student counselling, mental healthcare services, mechanisms and operating procedures in managing student mental well-being, as well as peer structures, pastoral care, religious guidance and other forms of support for students in need.
3. Student residence – Identifying Sustainable Business Models
This subtheme looks at the provision of both on- and off-campus student residence and its management. Discussion under this subtheme include, but not limited to, funding models, property development, maintenance, options for revenue generation, as well as future trends in student residence development among property developers and private operators.
4. Student development – Building Purposeful Leaders through Student Development Programmes
This subtheme discusses on student development through a strategic approach, with the ultimate objective of nurturing students who serve and lead with a purpose towards their peers and communities. Discussion under this subtheme include, but not limited to, strategies in student development, high impact student development activities, alignment of student development initiatives to national and regional agendas, as well as recent trends in student development.
5. Mobility and diversity – Developing Global Citizens
This subtheme zooms in on strategies and initiatives in mobilising students for experiential learning and appreciation towards cultural differences and diverse perspectives. Discussion under this subtheme include, but not limited to, inbound and outbound student mobility programmes, issues on balanced mobility, students’ intercultural learning, as well as approaches in addressing access and participation in student mobility programmes.