Student services get a welcome refresh.
Until today, TAU’s Student Services Division has been dedicated to providing students with a vital range of services including financial aid, academic counseling, tutoring, mentoring, career guidance, and psychological support. With our increasingly networked world and today’s expectations of a more seamless and hands-on experience when seeking services, the University is reinventing the Division as a much broader and expanded Student Success Center.
Israeli students have unique challenges that are atypical to their counterparts in, for example, America and Europe. Israeli students tend to begin their higher education studies 4-6 years later than other university students around the world because of the compulsory army service that starts at age 18. Added to this delay to their career trajectory are several responsibilities that students, now in their early-to-mid 20s, must assume, such as holding down 1-2 jobs to pay for their tuition and living, or even to help support family. Many students also perform military reserve duty which affects their annual school schedules. For many, it is a challenging balancing act.
“The Center is a conduit for ensuring everyone can successfully complete their degrees and pursue their professional dreams with as much support and guidance as possible.” – Prof. Drorit Neumann
A Supportive Framework
Prof. Drorit Neumann, who has been serving as the Dean of the Student Success Center since October 2021, says the goal of the Center is to “enhance the student experience by providing a streamlined, holistic support framework, one that is not entirely focused on students in need, but more so on every student, in general. These are Israel’s most precious resources – future leaders, educators, and innovators – and the Center is a conduit for ensuring everyone can successfully complete their degrees and pursue their professional dreams with as much support and guidance as possible,” Neumann says.
TAU’s entire student body of 30,000 students is eligible for assistance, with 8,000 students per year receiving need or merit-based financial aid. Through the Student Success Center, 15,000 hours of tutoring are available to any student who needs it, including designated support for students doing army reserve duty and those with learning disabilities. Students whose mother tongue is not Hebrew have access to specific programs before courses begin that include intensive Hebrew lessons and working on their soft skills and basic knowledge to ensure they have a solid educational foundation before the academic year starts. Additionally, students have access to subsidized psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment hours.
A One-Stop-Shop for Success
The new Center is envisioned as a one-stop-shop for every aspect of the student campus experience – from before students even enroll through to graduation: Helping students choose their academic direction and study program; assistance in the admission process; identifying and supporting students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders; facilitating academic and personal mentoring; offering career guidance and job placement services in cooperation with the faculties, and much more.
“On the one hand, our student success center provides a package of services. On the other, it empowers students to be socially involved citizens in Israeli society with a thriving career.” – Prof. Drorit Neumann
A key new feature is the Center’s wide range of proactive student retention activities, which educational counselors mediate in the various faculties across campus. Counselors aim to identify students who are falling behind in their studies at as early a stage as possible, to offer them the support they need and prevent them from dropping out altogether.
Empowering Social Activism
The Center also operates a ground-breaking initiative that embeds social activism into the teaching curriculum. The initiative, named TAU Impact, offers undergraduate students accredited workshops that combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on social activity, in collaboration with NGO’s, government bodies, and the local community. The result is a critical mass of students who apply their newfound knowledge for the good of the community and serve as catalysts of positive social change.
“Our goal is to offer a one-stop, accessible space for students. On the one hand, our student success center provides a package of services. On the other, it empowers students to be socially involved citizens in Israeli society with a thriving career. This is what success means to us,” concludes Prof. Neumann.