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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab




Different types of educators work at tertiary institutions, and students may interact with them in various ways depending on their role. However, all educators share a common goal: to help students succeed in their studies.

Educators are academics and or professionals who help students gain and practice knowledge. The types of educators that you connect with can vary depending on your level of study, i.e. vocational education (VE), higher education (HE) or postgraduate.


When we talk about academics at a university, we could be referring to different types of educators. Some academics focus solely on research and don't do any teaching, while others do both teaching and research. An academic could be your tutor, lecturer, professor, or dean, who oversees an entire school within your college. However, academics are usually not found working in Vocational Education areas.

Program coordinators/program managers

Program coordinators are responsible for the overall quality of a degree program or certificate program. If you have any questions about the courses you have selected for a particular year or want to swap courses or drop a course, the program coordinator would be your first point of contact to get advice.

The main responsibilities of a program coordinator include:

  • developing short and long-term goals for the program
  • scheduling courses, teaching teams and timetabling of the program
  • working closely with course coordinators to organise off-campus programs such as internships, placements, study tours etc.
  • managing program resources such as budgets, facilities, and types of equipment

Course coordinator

Course coordinators are responsible for designing, planning and delivering a particular course within a degree/certificate program. They are your first point of contact if you have any queries about the course such as learning materials, timetables, assessment dates, late submission for assessments etc.

Some of the responsibilities of a course coordinator are:

  • working closely with the program manager and the department head to prepare course objectives
  • leading the development of the learning materials, assessments and canvas site of the particular course
  • leading the course teaching team
  • organising textbooks and other resources for the course
  • recruitment, training and management of the tutors for the particular course
  • organising guest lectures or industry expert seminars

Lecturer/VE Teacher

The primary role of the lecturer is to facilitate the learning process, assess and mentor students according to the course curriculum. Lecturers are content experts in a specific discipline. Often your course coordinator and/or program coordinator can also be one of the lecturers delivering the course. For VE educators, the primary term used is the teacher. The learning materials can be delivered in a classroom/lecture theatre (face-to-face) or online (via Teams or Collaborate Ultra). When you have difficulties understanding course materials, you can always contact your lecturer and ask for further explanation.

The main responsibilities of a lecturer/VE teacher include:

  • delivery of quality education and training to the students
  • engaging students in the learning process
  • training for technical skills associated with the course, such as laboratory skills, computer skills etc.
  • assessment preparation and marking

Guest lecturers and industry professionals

Most university level courses offer lectures or seminars from guest lecturers or industry professionals, experts in their fields, as work-integrated learning. They share insights and experiences from their career as well as current knowledge in the industry or profession. An opportunity to learn from an expert in your profession is a highly valuable experience. These seminars provide an opportunity to ask questions about the industry or profession you will enter after your studies, as well as a networking platform.


Tutors are a vital part of a course-teaching team. They usually deliver tutorial sessions, workshops and lectorials with or without a lecturer. Tutors help you understand the tutorial questions, help you with complex concepts from the course material and provide feedback on your learning. If you are hesitant to ask questions from a lecturer, tutors will be your next option. Most importantly, they are more approachable during the class/session. Most tutors in undergraduate and postgraduate courses are current PhD students. They are friendly, welcoming you with questions and supportive, as well as experts in the subject content.


A Librarian is an information professional who supports learning, teaching and research. They provide training and support to connect the university community with the information and resources they need. They’re available to support the university though various channels, including online or face to face one-on-one consultations, embedded workshops, and via online chat. Librarians are experts in information literacy, which is the ability to identify and evaluate reliable sources of information.

It's a good idea to ask librarians for help because they can guide you to the best resources for your assignments. They can also assist you in developing research skills that will enhance your abilities to complete a variety of assessments and tasks during your studies.

Academic skills advisors

Academic skills advisors provide valuable advice and support across a range of subject areas and academic skills. This could include writing, assignment planning and structure, English language, presentation skills and more. Some are specialists in subject areas including science, maths and chemistry. They make themselves available through a variety of ways, including workshops and online/face to face one-on-one consultations. If you need help with your course work, it could be to check your writing or solve a mathematical equation or to further explain a science concept, academic skills advisors are there to help you.

Laboratory demonstrators / Technicians

Laboratory demonstrators play a vital role in the delivery of practical-based classes. They have a good understanding of the theory as well as laboratory skills and techniques. Laboratory demonstrators teach and assist you with laboratory skills. They are friendly and available to answer student questions during the class, provide clear explanations combining theory and the practical aspect and provide feedback on your laboratory skills and laboratory-based written work. In VE, laboratory demonstrators are called technicians.

Placement supervisors

A Placement supervisor is a professional who works in a specific field and is assigned by the organization to guide, teach, and support students during their placement. They are usually willing to share knowledge, provide close guidance to develop professional practice skills and create a supportive environment to work.

HDR supervisors

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students have completed a undergraduate degree and are continuing their studies through completing a postgraduate study. This may include a Masters’ by research or PhD (Doctor of Philosophy).

The Higher Degree by Research (HDR) supervisory team guide, mentor, and support their students throughout the HDR candidature. The HDR supervisory team comprises a primary supervisor, co-supervisors and associate supervisors. The primary supervisor leads the supervisory team and is mainly responsible for the student’s candidature. Also, they are responsible for the student's ongoing progress, arranging milestone panels, preparing the student for the milestone review, and ensuring the student has access to the required resources and the facilities to complete the study. Associate supervisors provide support with a particular area of the research. The primary supervisor is the main point of contact for students for any query.

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