Enrolment Service Professionals like Cairns guide every incoming student throughout their entire UBC experience
University student services – paying tuition, applying for loans – have a reputation for resembling a deli counter: Take a number. Wait in line. Hope things work out.
Last year, UBC took a new approach to student services on its Vancouver campus, replacing the traditional “deli counter” model with a more personal approach. It became the first Canadian university to assign students their very own Enrolment Services Professional (ESP) to guide them through their entire UBC career.
This September the program is doubling in size, with 35,000 UBC undergraduates getting their own ESP to help them navigate financial matters – tuition, loans and scholarships – enrolment, and connect with other campus services. Previously, students had to deal with different staff from each of these areas. Now they just call their ESP.
“We are here to make life easier for students,” says Jeaninne Cairns, one of nearly 50 Enrolment Services Professionals and a former high school teacher who is currently completing her Masters in Counselling Services. “We want university to be a successful and rewarding experience for students – and a big part of that is identifying issues and opportunities early, when there’s time to deal with them.”
Along with an intensive ESP training process, blending UBC’s student information system has been a game changer. “If we’re in a meeting and students need information right away, as they often do, they can always reach another ESP,” says Darran Fernandez, Enrolment Services Associate Director. “Students no longer have to explain their whole back story – each of us can quickly access their file.”
With each ESP assigned nearly 1,000 students, the biggest question is how they manage so many relationships. “Honestly, I think we all feed off the energy students bring – it’s such an exciting time of life,” says Cairns, noting that many students choose UBC’s expanded online self-services, and get more self-sufficient in later years. “That, and we drink a lot of coffee,” she says, laughing. “I have probably been asked every question you could possibly be asked.”
Learn more about Enrolment Service Professionals here.