Guidelines on Electronic Communications with Students
DATE OF APPROVAL:
29 October 2007
REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Director, Student and Academic Services
The University uses electronic methods of communication to keep in
regular contact with its students.
This includes the delivery of formal communications (see examples
below) from the University, such as information about particular
requirements or entitlements, about particular actions that must be
taken by students, or about important events in the University calendar
such as graduations and enrolments.
It also includes more general announcements (see examples below) to
students about a range of university activities and events, and other
matters that are deemed important, about which details are provided by
way of general information, but which do not constitute a formal
communication by the University.
The main methods by which the University communicates electronically
with students are student email, and messages posted on the University's
student portal, myUniSA, and SMS notifications to a students
nominated mobile phone number.
These guidelines are intended to provide direction on the form of
electronic communication to all students, large groups of students or a
particular cohort of students.
Compliance with the Spam Act
- The Spam Act 2003 regulates the sending of commercial electronic
messages in Australia.
- In compliance with the Spam Act, electronic messages which might
be deemed to be commercial in nature (because they offer or advertise
goods or services, or promote a particular supplier or business
opportunity) should only be sent where the recipient has provided
consent, the communication has a functional unsubscribe facility, and
accurate information about the sender is provided.
- Further information on the requirements of the Spam Act are
Communication by email from the University to all students or large
groups of students should be considered to be equivalent to written
communication sent by post. It should therefore be used sparingly, in
order to preserve both the impact of the medium, and its utility to
More general announcements to students should not be sent via email,
but should instead be posted on the University's student portal,
Formal communication through student email
- Email communications sent to all students, or to a large group of
students through a standard distribution list, should therefore be
restricted to matters which might be considered to be formal
communications from the University about a particular matter.
- Examples of such matters might include:
- The provision of information about significant University
processes, for example, dates and major events in the University
- Notification of the provision of important information (such as
notification that a student's Commonwealth Assistance Notice has
been provided on-line);
- Communication about matters affecting an individual student's
enrolment, results, financial standing, graduation, etc.;
- Notification of the requirement for a particular action to be
taken by a student or group of students;
- Statements on important or strategic matters by senior officers
of the University.
- Email communications sent to the distribution list 'all students'
must be approved by the Director, Student and Academic Services.
Depending on the content, formal authorisation may also need to be
sought from an appropriate line manager.
- Communication should only be sent through the University's
standard student email distribution lists when it is material to the
interests of the audience to whom it is sent (this is also required
under the provisions of the Spam Act, 2003).
Communication through the "MyUniSA" student portal
- General announcements for students should be posted on the
University's student portal, MyUniSA.
- Examples of announcements which might be posted to the portal
- Information on a particular event, activity or service which
might be of interest to students, but which does not form a major
part of the University calendar and which not all recipients are
expected to attend, participate in, or take advantage of;
- Information which is provided by way of interest, and which is
deemed to be relevant to its audience, but which is not essential to
their enrolment and progress at the University.
- Formal communications that are sent to students by email may, in
addition, be announced on the student portal, eg. letting students
know that results are available.
- Announcements posted on the student portal consist of a single
line heading, followed by a one or two sentence subheading, along
with a hyperlink to further information (provided either on a web
page, or as a document in Microsoft Word format). Please use the
portal message request form which can be found on the
- All announcements should be given a clear commencement date, as
well as a date for removal, which should not be later than 14 days
after first posting.
- Announcements should clearly indicate their intended audience.
Currently available target audiences are:
- All students
- Domestic students
- International students (onshore)
- Research students
- Transnational students (offshore)
- Transnational Research students
- Students in studies with partner organisations, such as SAIBT,
CELUSA, Open Universities Australia, or students undertaking short
programs of the University
Announcements sent to any of these groups will only be available or
visible to these groups
- As the operation of the portal is progressively improved, the list
of target audiences and level of detail at which it is possible to
target students will be increased.
- In cases where it is not possible to communicate directly with a
target group of students through the student portal (as the technical
ability to select this particular audience does not currently exist),
it may be appropriate to use an email distribution list to target
these students directly, provided the communication is material to the
interests of the audience to whom it is sent. Examples of such
targeted communications might include:
- Announcements to students on a particular campus about relevant
events, services or facilities;
- Announcements to particular subgroups of students - for example
international students by country of origin.
Communications through the SMS notification tool
- The SMS application should NOT be used for formal communication
to students. Written communications, student emails and messages via
MyUniSA are the methods of formal communication.
- If time is of the essence to communicate with students, then the
SMS application may be used to supplement email and announcements
for formal communications.
- Examples of appropriate use for using SMS to supplement formal
- notifying students when classes have been moved or cancelled
at the last moment
- notifying students if there has been a crisis on campus
which may effect them
- last minute changes to exam timetable/venue
- notifying students that results are available
- Where staff are providing additional customer service and
reminding students of upcoming deadlines the SMS application can be
- Example of appropriate use for value added customer service
- reminding students of assignment deadlines
- The ability to contact students via SMS will be restricted and
any staff requiring access to this service will have to have
approval from their cost centre manager.
- The application should NOT be used for promotion of
non-University related events or for personal use.
- Examples of inappropriate use by UniSA staff (NB UniLife staff
may use SMS to communicate information about social and sporting
events being organised by UniLife to its members only)
- notifying students of happy hour at the local pub
- notifying students of a free concert on campus
- The SMS application has an auditing application which records
the following information:
- who sent the message
- when the message was sent
- the recipients of the message
- the message content
- Staff will need to provide cost centre information when applying
to use the application. The application will summarise the total
cost for the message being sent, and this cost will be charged back
to the cost centre that the user provided.
Notes on using SMS communication
- Not all students will receive these messages for a variety
of reasons e.g.:
- they may have opted not to receive SMS communications
- they may have not have their mobile phone switched on
- they may have lost their mobile phone
- they may have a flat battery in their phone
- This service should be considered as a value added service only
- Do not assume all students in any particular target group or
cohort will receive the message
Communication with students without access to online
- Not all students of the University have access to online
facilities. These students will be identified at the point of
enrolment, and an indicator noted on the student and email systems.
- Where communications are sent to all students or to a large group
of students via electronic means, consideration must be given to
appropriate methods of communicating the information to students
without access to online facilities.
- Where an email is sent through a distribution list to a student
who does not have access to online facilities, a message will be sent
to alert the sender that the communication must be delivered to the
student at their physical mailing address.
- Email messages approved by the Director: Student and Academic
Services will be sent by SAS to the relevant student at their mailing
Approval to access research participants
If you require assistance or agreement from another organisation to
undertake your research, you will need to gain written organisational
permission/approval to access staff members, clients or other
information for research purposes. This approval is separate from the
ethics approval process and is usually required from the Chief Executive
Officer or equivalent authorised person.
Approval to contact University of South Australia staff or students,
and/ or to access data for research purposes should be sought in the
- For access to email contact details of staff or students in one
School approval should be sought from the Head of School.
- For access to email contact details of staff or students in more
than one School within the same Division, approval should be sought
from the Pro Vice-Chancellor of that Division.
- Approval should be sought from the
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation when access is sought
to staff or students within different Divisions or if the University
itself is the object of the research.
- Approval to access information held in University databases should
be sought from the holder of that database eg. Director: Student and
Academic Services for student data.
These guidelines will be reviewed in light of an assessment of changes to the student portal which are
intended to enable announcements to be sent to a larger range of
specific target audiences as well as a review of the practical