Engaging with partnership activities across the sector

One of the great things about my Fellowship has been the interest and enthusiasm shown by so much of the sector, and my interactions with dedicated and innovative members of institutions across Australia. We hope to have 18 institutions presenting their initiatives, ideas and experiences for student partnership on 1 September.

The last few weeks have been very exciting. First I was advised by Jacqueline Lo, the Chair of the Academic Board of the Australian National University, that the Board had endorsed the introduction of a Student Partnership Agreement – the first to do so in Australia. This agreement contains expectations for all members of the university working together in partnership for enhancement of all aspects of the institution, and it follows those which have been initiated successfully in comparative sectors abroad particularly Scotland. At ANU it was worked on jointly by its student leaders James Connolly and Allyssa Shaw, and Professor Richard Baker, the PVC (University Experience), a great example of working together towards the development of a partnership culture.

On 4th August I attended an event at UNSW at which students from all disciplines and cohorts demonstrated the ideas they have researched and developed for the enhancement of the university in all facets of its operations – in learning and teaching, and the student experience. This UNSW Hero Program is a truly inspiring demonstration of what can be achieved by all members of the university working together, and with industry, for the benefit of the institution and the professional development of its students.

It is so affirming to have had so many ‘follow-up’ contacts during the year, all of which demonstrate a keen interest in exploring or furthering student partnership in a wide range of institutions across the sector.

Last week I was in Victoria at the invitation of two very different institutions. On Wednesday I led a very engaged session with the Academic Board of Federation University and invited guests. The invitation followed members of the university, staff and students, attending my Victorian collaborative workshop in May, and my presentation to the Australian Chairs of Academic Boards following the UA conference earlier. Afterwards I met with Jeremie van Delft, the Director of Student Connect, to discuss his ideas for innovations there.

On Thursday and Friday I was at Holmesglen Institute in Melbourne, a public educational provider whose coverage is extensive, from higher education to non-school senior secondary education and TAFE, including wide global reach as a private provider in various countries. It has a strong interest in pursuing active student engagement across their numerous education areas and student cohorts. First, I spoke to their Leaders group, which included Mary Faraone, the Chief Executive Officer. Secondly, together with my Fellowship Manager Ann Cahill, I ran a workshop for 80 – teachers, managers and professional staff from across the institute.

The workshop was strongly interactive, beginning with discussing the questions posed at the collaborative workshops and considering the applicability of the Draft Principles and Framework to their particular circumstances. It was followed by a session led by Ann on training for Course Representatives as they agree that this is a great way to develop a culture of ‘this is the way we do things here’.

Thank you to all the institutions involved for sharing your initiatives.

Sally Varnham
14 August 2017

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