Questions about what we do

By LSU staff 

Below are answers to some of the most common questions we get:

What is the LSU?

The LSU is a part of the university which aims to assist students in their academic and study skills development as independent learners. The LSU’s purpose is to provide students with the transferable skills they need to succeed not only in the environment of higher education, but also in their future professional life. These skills include:
  • Academic writing
  • Critical thinking
  • Critical evaluation of sources
  • Time management
  • Oral communication
  • Group work
  • Citing and referencing
  • And many more.

The LSU is currently located on the 4th floor of the Library and Learning Commons at Saigon South, and 1.2.010 (the library) in Hanoi.How does the LSU support students?

How does the LSU support students?

The LSU supports students by delivering support in academic literacies and study skills. This is done in a variety of ways.
To begin with, there is a series of workshops which run each semester and are open to all students irrespective of programme. Attendance at these students is voluntary and students can choose to attend one or all of the LSU workshops.

The LSU also offers one to one support to students. This is delivered in two ways, firstly by a drop in (usually for simple enquiries and lasting around 15 minutes) and secondly by booked appointments which typically last up to 45 minutes. One to one support usually works around students’ written work though other skills can be tackled in these sessions. Given that proofreading is a skill expected of an independent learner, the LSU does not proofread student assignments.

How does the LSU work with academic staff to provide subject-specific workshops and resources?

The LSU can offer assistance and support with blending courses and academic literacy skills and there is considerable evidence of success with programmes at universities where academic literacy skills have been blended with course delivery (Stappenbelt 2008, Dunworth 2010).
This is done in a variety of ways. To begin with, the LSU works with staff to develop workshops designed specifically to meet the academic literacy needs of their students. If a member of staff observes for example, that his class, or the cohort in general, require explicit focus and development of a skill that is required for the completion of course work or assessments, the LSU will develop and deliver resources to support students’ development of that skill. There is strong anecdotal evidence of LSU intervention leading to higher pass rates. This corresponds to research into the efficacy of learning skills programmes in general (Hattie, Biggs and Purdie 1996).

In addition to the sort of support listed above, the LSU can offer support with assessments. According to Biggs and Tang (2007), there should be alignment between intended learning outcomes (ILOs) and assessment. These in turn are intended to result in graduates having the attributes intended by the university as listed below:

  • Global in Outlook and Competence
  • Work Ready
  • Innovative
  • Environmentally Aware and Responsible
  • Culturally and Socially Aware
  • Active and Lifelong Learners.

The support that the LSU offers is intended to optimise the assessment’s ability to measure students’ achievement of ILO’s. It is intended that these contributions to task designs do not add unnecessary burdens on students or staff. Lecturing staff and LSU staff will bear this in mind when determining the process for collecting, reviewing and providing support which complement any task created for students to use in the development of a skill.

Why is the LSU here?

The landscape of tertiary education is changing. With the Bradley report in Australia and the Dearing report in the UK calling for widening participation in higher education and the increasing numbers of international students studying at universities (according to Australian Education International (2010) in 2002, there were 273,855 international students enrolled at Australian institutions yet by 2009 this number had swelled to 631, 935) that operate within different cultural rhetorical style to that in which they grew up, the need for the teaching of academic literacy skills has become increasingly important. Yet both international students and native speaking students have difficulties coping with the academic literacies assumed at tertiary level study (Murray 2010). Indeed, a lack of these skills (such as critical thinking, academic writing and research) has lead to students, especially those from non traditional backgrounds, dropping out from their studies (Thomas 2002, Rowley 2003).

With regard to international students, there is increasingly a gap between the expectations of academics and the ability of students (Sheridan 2010). However, although English language proficiency is important, it is only a part of the supplementary support that these students need. Evidence suggests that a combination of language and skills support is necessary for international students to succeed (Stappenbelt 2008, Storch 2009, Baik and Greig 2009). The LSU aims to provide students with those skills.

The advisors at the LSU are members of the Association for Academic Language and Learning (AALL) and share the objectives of that organisation:

1. Work towards an institutional environment which provides access to the highest quality of learning and teaching experiences for all students and staff;
2. Support the development of core, disciplinary academic and professional language and learning strategies and attributes in all higher education students, such that they become independent learners;
3. Strengthen the capacity of institutional courses and programs to explicitly identify and address students’ academic language and learning needs;
4. Foster the recognition of the academic nature of the work of language and learning development through individual and collaborative research within and across higher education institutions nationally and internationally;
5. Promote quality, diversity, internationalisation and flexibility in language and learning development;
6. Use publications and conferences to inform the wider academic community about the pedagogies and practices of language and learning development in higher and further education; and

7. Demonstrate professional leadership in using innovative pedagogical theory and practice and emerging technologies. (AALL 2010)-


AALL 2010, ‘Association for Academic Language and Learning Position Statement’, AALL, viewed 22 January 2011, <>

Australian Education International 2010, 2009 International Student Data. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Government. Retrieved from

Baik, C & Greig, J 2009,  ‘Improving the academic outcomes of undergraduate ESL students: the case for discipline-based academic skills programs’, Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 28, issue 4, pp. 401 — 416.

Biggs, J and Tang, C 2007 Teaching for Quality Learning at University, 3rd Edition, Open University Press, Berkshire

Dunworth, K. & Briguglio, C 2010, ‘Collaborating across boundaries: Developing a cross-departmental approach to English language development in an undergraduate business unit’, Journal of Academic Language and Learning, vol 4, issue 1, pp. 13-21.

Hattie, J., Biggs, J., & Purdie N 1996 Effects of learning skills interventions on student learning: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, vol. 6, issue 2, pp. 99-126.

Murray, N.L  2010, ‘Workplace Language Needs and University Language Education — Do They Meet?’ The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, vol  1, issue 1,pp. 55-64.

RMIT 2011, ‘Graduate attributes’, RMIT University, viewed 22 January 2011,

Rowley, J 2003 ‘Retention: rhetoric or realistic agendas for the future of higher education’, The International Journal of Education Management, vol. 17, issue 6, pp. 248-253.

Storch, N 2009 ‘The impact of studying in a second language (L2) medium university on the development of L2 writing’,Journal of Second Language Writing, vol. 18, pp. 103–118.

Stappenbelt, B. & Barrett-Lennard, S  2008, ‘Teaching smarter to improve the English communication proficiency of international engineering students – Collaborations between content and language specialists at the University of Western Australia’  Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, vol 14, issue 2, pp. 115-124.

Thomas, L 2002 ‘Student Retention in Higher Education: the role of institutional habitus’, Journal of Education Policy, vol.17, issue 4, pp. 423 – 442.

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