STEPUP for quality enhancement

Hot off the press (Twitter actually which these days comes close) …

Sophie Johnston, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TEQSA ‘ensuring we’re listening to student voices from around the country’.   The primary objective is to ensure student voice in TEQSA’s activities.  Great work from all involved – particularly Anthony McClaran and Sophie.   The New Zealand Academic Quality Agency has done similar, ensuring student presence on audit panels.  This move there is followed up with a joint summit on student transition and knowledge transfer (below).

Student leadership is key to student partnership.  My research abroad points strongly in this direction, this was mirrored in input from my Fellowship collaborative workshops and is a strong feature of the STEPUP principles and framework (on this page under Principles).  I am particularly impressed with the fantastic group of student leaders I have been working with during my Fellowship, and their moves to collaborate as a joint body promoting student partnership.  Sadly it hasn’t always been like that.  Excitingly now however thanks to the work of these highly motivated students (nationally and within institutions) there are strong inroads into the development of the professional role of student leaders and a realisation that this can exist alongside the political role (which it would be sad to lose).

A concern with student leader involvement in matters such as review and enhancement at institution and national level has always been the transitory nature of elected student officers and often the lack of knowledge transfer and handover.  There are two ways we can work towards changing this in Australia.  One would be the appointment of an executive officer for the joint national student bodies.  This person should be more than administrative but rather his or her role would be the ongoing support and training for student leaders, and research agendas towards promoting the role of students in working together with institutions.  The other would be a summit such as one being held next week in New Zealand following the MOU as a joint exercise between AQA and the New Zealand Union of Students Associations  http://www.students.org.nz/uni_summit_2017.  Sophie is attending this summit and will bring back the ideas so we can institute similar events in Australia.

Sally Varnham
22 September 2017

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