Sustainable approach to continuity of student governance at the University of the Sunshine Coast

Belinda Brear, Melissa Geltch and Alexander DeCorso – University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s (USC) model of student engagement is underpinned by a student governance framework that enables students and the university to work towards authentic partnership in decision-making. The framework is a bottom up, three-tiered model that replicates the staff governance structure and features 17 groups representing students across each School, Campus, Student Guild, High Performing Student Athletes, Indigenous and international students.

Partnership in this context is not about relinquishing control but rather it is about empowering those affected by decisions to actively participate in making them (Varnham, 2017). During the implementation stage of the USC student governance framework, a flexible approach has been key to success. This showcase session will explore the sustainable measures in the framework design intended to ensure the transfer of knowledge, continuity of representation, and fostering long term, productive relationships in a dynamic environment, now and into the future.

The purpose of this presentation is to share USC’s approach to design for continuity, and to discuss, from both staff and student perspectives, the challenges faced and changes made along the way. The session will include a reflective component where participants will be invited to provide feedback and share their own experiences to draw inspiration from sustainable partnerships across institutions.

References
Varnham, S. (2017). Creating a national framework for student partnership in university decision-making and governance. Sydney, Australia.

Co-authors names
Dr Alison Jaquet FHEA, Associate Director, Student Engagement and Success, USC