WISE Wales

WISE Wales – the Welsh student partnership initiative – held their conference in Cardiff on 23rd May and I have been following it on Twitter. What a great acronym – WISE stands for Wales Initiative for Student Engagement. Its partnership approach, said to be a defining feature of further and higher education in Wales, ‘engages students as active participants in the leadership, management, development and delivery of their own educational experience’. It is built on three pillars: Working in Partnership, Valuing Feedback and Harnessing Expertise. In common with its near neighbours, WISE operates as a collaboration between sector groups: ColegauCymru/Colleges Wales, the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Higher Education Wales, the National Union of Students in Wales and the Quality Assurance Agency (see wisewales.org.uk/). How good would it be if the whole sector here could pull together in this way to embed student partnership nationally and in institutions across Australia –definitely top of my wish list. In the meantime however I am happy with the strong support Student Voice Australia has been shown by so many members of the higher education community – students, staff, senior managers and nationally, TEQSA.

Just a few points from the WISE Wales event:

@KatieDavorn of @HallamUnion introduces ‘partnership in practice not in principle’, in talking about how Sheffield Hallan SU has recently developed a partnership approach to student representation with SUs, student representatives, University directorates and Faculty Staff. Danielle Barnard @Bangorstudents states: ‘Partnership is not a transaction, it must be done with mutual respect,’ and Jeremy Harvey @TSDSU emphasises that collaboration is a necessity for good partnership. His gem is:

‘We come into the room with different values and priorities, but we come out with a united goal and direction’ #PartnershipWales18

This just about perfectly sums up what the approach to a true authentic partnership between students and institutions should be.

Back at home, I believe partnership is developing …

Yesterday I attended a Workshop of students brought together to provide input into 2027, the university’s strategic plan exercise. It was once again clearly demonstrated that students have great ideas and want to become involved if their input is sought and they feel they can make a difference.

Importantly, the students pointed to the value of engagement for their own professional development.

I look forward to reporting more on this in my next blog …

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