Managing student critical incidents

Mary Ann Seow, Nadia Rajic


A critical incident involving a student is distressing for families, friends and staff. The effective management of any critical incident is important. Not only is it important to assist and support affected parties, it is also important to ensure that the situation is not worsened through mismanagement.

This workshop is designed to for those that work with students at any level. It deals with the practical issues of preparation, planning of policy and dealing with actual critical incidents.  The half-day session aims to give you the resources and knowledge to devise or revise policy and procedural guidelines for a critical incident.

Program outline:

  • Definitions and Examples of a critical incident
    What is a critical incident?
  • Critical Incident preparation and response
    Pre-incident preparation and responses
  • Policy Development
    Looking at resources and guidelines in developing policy and procedures
  • Self Care
    Who looks after us?

This interactive workshop will draw on case studies and participants will be encouraged to share scenarios and cases.

Workshop Facilitators:

Mary Ann Seow is the current National President of ISANA International Education Association in Australia. Mary Ann has been involved in international education since 2000. She has been a member of the ISANA National Council since 2009 and has been actively involved in international education in Australia for over 15 years. She arrived as an international student from Singapore to study at Finders University in Adelaide and has worked in the higher education sector in a variety of roles. These have included industrial relations, human resource management, academic teaching and research, international student services and corporate training. Her passion lies in working in the international education sector and collaborating with agencies, student groups and peers to assist and support international students and to advance research in international education.

Nadia Rajic was the Manager of Student Counselling at the University of South Australia from 2007 until 2015. She currently works as the Manager: Student Wellbeing with responsibility for critical incident management relevant to students as well as implementing a University-wide Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan using population based approaches and based on a holistic view of wellbeing. Nadia has also worked as an academic in the School of Psychology and Social Work at the University of South Australia. She has also collaborated on internet addiction among university students with Flinders University of South Australia. Nadia is passionate about student wellbeing and whole of university approaches to wellbeing using health promotion principles.

Protecting your investment: What you can do to maximize student persistence

Dr Jim Elliott


All stakeholders in higher education have made a significant investment in the future.  Universities spend substantial sums on marketing and recruitment. Those funding higher education hope there will be a pay-off both in terms of qualified graduates and repayment of student debt.  Those paying fees (students and very likely their families) clearly do not want their fees wasted.  The time spent by students during their course has opportunity costs in income foregone.  But if a student does not persist to completion, this investment is largely (although not entirely) wasted.

A well constructed program that identifies the variables associated with student persistence and intervenes in a timely may be seen as protecting the investment stakeholders have made in their future.

This workshop summarizes the workshop facilitator’s long experience with student success, persistence and engagement – as well as (to use less attractive language) student attrition and retention.  The session will address the nine key variables that research evidence indicates make a difference to the chances of a student persisting to the end of their educational program.  Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on the resources available at their own institutions, and how practice may be made more effective.

Workshop Facilitator:

Dr Jim Elliott spent 25 years in higher education before retiring as Associate Director Student Transition at Curtin University in 2014.  He was active in the development and implementation of Curtin’s Student Retention Plan and has an especial interest in effective orientation, mentor programs, student mental health, and early intervention with students apparently at-risk of discontinuing their studies.  He is a former President of ANZSSA and a former editor of JANZSSA. He has carried out significant research into variables associated with student persistence, and has published and presented papers nationally and internationally. Since retiring from full-time employment, he has maintained an interest in higher education with occasional periods as a locum counsellor at the University of Western Australia.


ISANA is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

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