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The power of auditing existing activities

Throughout my Fellowship and the preceding OLT project, it has been apparent that there are many great initiatives happening around student engagement, partnership and co-creation across the sector. It is equally clear however that often the message regarding these things fails to be heard even within the home institution.

We have seen websites that contain information about opportunities for student involvement that are hard to nav…igate, making it challenging for students to discover what is available. Opportunities may not even be listed on those websites.

There is a strong argument for institutions to conduct university-wide audits of the opportunities that exist for student partnership so that they may be readily apparent to all. Some universities are taking the lead in such an exercise. The benefit of these audits would be to allow institutions to identify gaps, opportunities and unproductive overlaps, and to work towards addressing them.

Auditing is a necessary first step in understanding an institution’s student partnership landscape. Such a holistic view provides the background for a meaningful discussion around where student partnership sits within the institution, its benefits, and how it needs to be developed and refined. It is a necessary precursor for a consideration of whether the types of engagement available are the best options for partnering with students. It allows discussion around how students come to participate in those roles, and who is participating. It provides a backdrop for consideration of important facets of student partnership such as how students are prepared for and supported in partnership roles, and how their efforts are recognised.

Such an auditing activity provides a great opportunity for an institution to consider its commitment to providing opportunities for students to work with it in partnership and the benefits it may gain from this.

Sally Varnham
24 July 2017

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