Global learning and teaching

Meet the staff behind La Trobe’s incredibly successful partnership with PSB Academy in Singapore

Established in 2015, the partnership between La Trobe University and PSB Academy in Singapore offers students the opportunity to study one of our world-class science programs in chemistry, pharmaceutical science, biomedical science and molecular biology.

Singapore staff deliver the courses, supported by La Trobe staff in Australia. Students graduate with a La Trobe University degree.

Dr Jenny Selkirk-Bell is an Academic Coordinator in the PSB Academy partnership. Together with Dr Yeliz Boglev and Dr Noni Frankenberg, she is a point-of-contact between off-shore academics and local subject coordinators and has a significant role in supporting the Singapore-based students.

“I’ve been part of the coordination team for this program since its inception in 2015," she says. "While I don’t have day-to-day teaching interaction with PSB Academy students, I do derive a great sense of satisfaction from making the program work."

"Getting the content right involves a lot of fine-tuning to ensure that each subject has the La Trobe look and feel and includes the right materials to properly support offshore teaching. We’re not just transferring course material from one location to another. We’re constantly working with coordinators on curriculum improvements to better support the student experience in Singapore. And, some of our curriculum innovations in Singapore have been adopted onshore, so Australian students are also benefiting from this partnership.

Together with Yeliz and Noni, I manage the operations of the academic side of the partnership – coordinating LMS sites for subjects taught in Singapore, facilitating student communications, monitoring feedback and answering academic enquiries. Every day is different, with its own challenges and rewards, and I enjoy that aspect of the job. But it’s the close collaboration with our colleagues in Singapore that makes this initiative work. It’s a partnership in every sense of the word.

I’m proud that this program has been well received by PSB Academy and that we have contributed to it in a meaningful way. The student experience is central to our efforts and their success is very rewarding.”

Kate Chen is Selkirk-Bell’s counterpart at PSB Academy, where she is Assistant Head of the School of Life and Physical Sciences. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of La Trobe courses at PSB and coordinates the laboratory portion of the program.

“The La Trobe-PSB relationship is frequently cited as the model example of a partnership. It works because it invests in local delivery," she says. "There is strong interaction between the students and the local tutors and demonstrators, with support at hand from the coordinators at La Trobe."

"Part of my job involves working with the academics and coordinators to improve the student experience. I am also responsible for overall coordination of the laboratory program, making sure everything runs smoothly. PSB developed its laboratories on the La Trobe model. We have overhead cameras for live demonstrations and a bright colour-scheme that is reminiscent of labs in the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science.

I am in a privileged position, where I can make a positive contribution to the student experience. A couple of years ago, I helped a student to obtain an internship at a prominent research institution. At the graduation ceremony, he and his parents thanked me for my support. The student had been offered a full-time position as a result of this internship and the parents had watched their son mature as a result of his studies. Making a difference is the best part of my job.

This is a team effort, and Jenny, Yeliz and Noni and I rely on each other. We are more than just colleagues. We have become friends. We maintain a good rapport and it has created a positive dynamic for the program, the academics and the students. The program benefits as a result.”

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