The UQ website has had links for Current Students hidden from the front page header, leaving only links for Future Students, Researchers, and Alumni.
The change was first identified by Semper Floreat reader Jack Barton in a letter to the editor over the weekend.
“With the new semester starting up, I was looking forward to starting on the right foot,” Mr Barton said.
“I took a day off from work so that I could prepare for my content-heavy tutorials, but found I wasn’t able to sign on anywhere,” he said.
It’s a change that makes the University of Queensland unique among Australian public universities – a #Semper investigation showed that all others have either a “Current Students” tab or a “Student Login” button immediately visible on the homepage.
Though the links are still accessible in the footer, and under the “study < more information < current students” tabs, concerns surrounding accessibility persist in various circles.
For the Student Union, it’s a sign of the times.
UQ Union President Emily Searle said that the decision was a strange one.
“Whether it was a technical error or an intentional decision, it’s a kick in the teeth for students trying to engage with the University online,” President Searle said.
“The need for online resources has never been higher for students, but the University’s website is being increasingly optimised towards targeting alumni and future students making more money for the University.
“Meanwhile Blackboard hasn’t had an update in a decade, and it shows,” she said.
The changes appear to have taken place on June 21, with an Internet Archive page showing a dropdown menu for my.UQ, Programs and Courses, SI-net, Library, Scholarships, and Campuses was still available on that day.
Seeking an explanation, Semper spoke to the university administration.
The university had this to say:
The changes are part of an ongoing program to improve UQ’s website for external audiences and visitors’ experience in finding information.
In parallel, there is a stream of work looking at an improved intranet experience for current students (currently my.UQ) and staff. This work will include consultation with current students, and more information about this will be available later this year.
The first phase of the website project was to restructure the information architecture of the website.
As part of this work, the my.UQ login is now available under Study/Current Students in the main navigation bar and the web footer under Current Students.
To coincide with the start of Semester 2, the website changes were communicated to students via the monthly newsletter and social media.
Since going live with the changes, we are monitoring traffic to the site. Traffic to my.UQ is up 6% on the same period last year.
We will continue to monitor site traffic and will be doing further user-testing with current students.
We would welcome any feedback you might have from students and any suggestions you might have on how to promote these changes to the student community.
The news comes as UQ continues to struggle with student sense of belonging, with a new committee being established by Academic Board to address repeated low annual ratings on the Student Experience Survey.