How The University of Newcastle reaffirmed their commitment to student experiences through Stellic

Executive Summary

Student experience has resided at the core of The University of Newcastle’s aspiration to digitize program planning and academic advising for their 39,000+ students. Seeking to put students in the pilot seat of their academic journey, their team identified Stellic, whose degree management and advising platform embodied an “all-in-one” student-centric solution. Following a procurement process, it was determined that Stellic was fit for purpose for The University's needs.

The results followed swiftly. In 6 months, the end-to-end platform was launched to the full University involving the production of over 400 degree audits and associated program pathways. Just weeks after launch, 16,000 students had actively planned and made program decisions in the new system. Staff were already seeing tremendous improvements in their advising and degree tracking processes.  

Below we share The University of Newcastle and Stellic partnership journey. We’ll cover their initial vision for the project, their experience with implementation and change management, as well as the feedback and impressive results they’ve observed in the short time frame since launch.  

The Vision

The University sought a digital solution that fostered self-service, meaning students could access clear degree information on their own, and would feel confident in doing their own planning and tracking of their academic progress. The upshot was that the “self-service first” approach would fulfill multiple goals across the institution. Not only would it improve student engagement, but it would soften administrative burdens on staff, such as the Program Advice team, who were routinely answering student inquiries and acting as the sole point of contact for students to get program information.  

During platform demonstrations, it was clear to The University of Newcastle team that student experience was core to the functionality and design of the platform. The platform housed all the relevant program and course information a student could need and helped them make the most informed planning decisions possible. For example, Stellic could identify courses for which students had cleared prerequisites and would notify students when a course in their plan was not helping them make progress toward their degree. Stellic would also deliver on the desired ripple effects for the administrative side. Clearer degree information would reduce the volume of transactional program questions coming in, and staff would benefit from tools for proactive outreach and degree tracking en masse.

As a result, The University of Newcastle became the first Australian University to select and implement Stellic for interactive program planning and degree audit.

Transforming the Vision Into Reality


The partnership between The University of Newcastle and Stellic has been wholly collaborative since the project kicked off. Both teams were equally invested in delivering the quickest time to value and did whatever was necessary to see the university go live in the agreed timeframe. Mutual trust and open communication were crucial in achieving that goal. Whenever there was a question or idea, it was quickly addressed over direct message or explored in recurring meetings:

“The Stellic team was very agile and responsive. The communication structure really worked for us, and there was never a time where we felt unsupported.” - Karl Foley, Project Coordinator, The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle project team ensured that the eventual system owners and end-users were engaged during implementation. In the days and weeks leading to Go Live, they worked closely with the Program Advice team and recruited student staff members to finish building out programs and pathways in the platform. Ultimately, the 6 month full implementation was a testament to the motivation and resourcefulness of both teams.

“I’ve never seen an implementation of that size go ahead in such a short time and I’ve honestly never had a more pleasant vendor implementation experience than working with Stellic.” - Stuart Sandie, Project Manager, The University of Newcastle

The Change Process

Stellic inherently carried significant transformative potential in the long run, however, the team recognized the need to generate substantial awareness among students and staff in the short-term. This called for a systematic approach that would not only inform campus about the forthcoming platform, but create genuine excitement about the possibilities that Stellic would open.

For Students:  

It’s no secret that today’s students often require multiple touch points of engagement to absorb degree information. While students were sure to quickly adapt to and benefit from Stellic, the team carefully considered the best approach to capture the attention of a 39,000+ student body.  

As such, the campaign for “Program Planner” used various mediums and unfolded over several months. Initial emails and YouTube videos were followed by social media posts on Facebook and Instagram. Cognizant that other events around campus might cloud the information spread, the team planned out additional touches on social media, Canvas, and email in the days/weeks leading up to the “Go-Live” date.  Program Planner had above average engagement across student communication channels, the general sentiment observed was that students were excited about the new platform and were interested to learn more about it.

For Staff:

On the staff side, change required awareness and training, and the project team approached both questions with a similar philosophy. Namely, they identified key leaders across campus, and focused on training and building excitement with them to start. The thought was that creating buy-in and user proficiency with people leaders would empower them to effectively communicate the change to staff: they could articulate, in a more contextualized way, exactly why and how Stellic would benefit their team. The change team supplemented the approach with self-paced learning resources, such as guides and videos, while also making themselves visible and accessible in key areas across campus.

“One thing that was really important was being sensitive to change capacity across campus.  Some units were undergoing other changes in the same time frame, so we tried to be very in-tune with those events as the process unfolded.” - Rebecca Partridge, Senior Change Analyst, The University of Newcastle

By December 2022, The University was ready to “Go Live” to students and staff.

Impacts and Feedback

In numeric terms alone, it’s clear that students are taking advantage of the new way to manage their journey. Weeks after going live, over 70% of users who logged into Program Planner (16,000 students) had begun planning for future terms. Student feedback indicates a genuine appreciation for the platform, and in particular, clear information and ease-of-use have been recurring themes:

"It made it easy to find and save information in a format that will enable me to start the conversation about what I am hoping to achieve with my studies.” - Student, The University of Newcastle
“[With Program Planner] I have all my options in front of me, I can think on it and decide early-on what to do.” - Student, The University of Newcastle

Stellic is acting as the single medium for students and advisors to digest information and communicate, replacing the many piecemeal methods that were previously used for planning and advising. Feedback from Program Advisors points to improved visibility and communication about student progress:

”It’s much faster to get an overall picture of a student's progress.” - Advisor, The University of Newcastle
“Using Planner means both students and I have the same version of a plan in operation – no more lost bits of paper” – Program Convenor (Advisor), The University of Newcastle

On the administrative side, reporting and filtering have made it easy to take an aggregate view of how students are progressing toward graduation, and advisors can quickly identify students who are potentially off-track. In particular, staff are realizing huge improvements while checking for potential graduates, where the process for some programs has gone from 3 days to 2 hours.

“[Stellic] has made it so much easier to understand transitions. Checking for potential graduates was a breeze.” – Program Advisor, The University of Newcastle


While Stellic is actualizing their vision, The University of Newcastle team anticipates an enduring relationship with opportunities for further partnership. They look forward to measuring compounded outcomes around on-time graduation, as well as additional testimonials from students and staff.  In the near term, the team is excited to deploy the platform for prospective students - helping them to visualize a path at The University before they’re even enrolled.  

Among many wins to celebrate so far, it all comes back to students for The University of Newcastle. Their regard for student experience has been the beating heart of this project from the onset, and their successes point to a strong alignment on these values between them and Stellic.  

“Our aim was to put the control in the hands of our students, allowing them to shape their own university outcomes. We wanted to empower them, putting them in the driver's seat and ensuring that our systems provide the necessary flexibility to adapt to changes and design their own learning path.” - Anthony Molinia, Chief Digital & Information Officer, The University of Newcastle

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