One of the deliverables from my Fellowship is a toolkit that aims to provide you with ideas, hints and resources that may be of assistance in your journey to embed student partnership at your institution. It brings together insights from institutions in Australia that are doing good things with respect to partnering with their students in decision making processes. The Australian examples we draw on were featured during the initiative sharing session at the final symposium for my Fellowship.

In places the toolkit refers to the good work being done by organisations such as sparqs that are further along the road to student partnership and have developed excellent tools that you will find useful. Some of those tools are also mentioned in the Australian examples included in the toolkit.

The key aspects of student partnership that feature in the toolkit include building partnership. Building partnership with students is a challenge for institutions as this may require a culture shift amongst at least some of the institution’s stakeholders.

Developing student partnership in an institution takes time. Time is needed to build trust and common understanding and to address concerns that stakeholders may have around what student partnership means in practice.

Nonetheless institutions are embracing this challenge. The toolkit provides examples of Australian institutions that are doing just that. One example, the Student Partnership Agreement, is from the Australian National University, and I will discuss this further in my next blog.

Another example of a key student partnership initiative is that of the University of South Australia. It has developed a Student Engagement Framework to provide an enhanced student experience and increased student engagement across the University. This involved extensive consultation with staff, students, alumni and industry partners. Student Project Support Officers are working on a range of projects in collaboration with staff in the delivery of an enhanced student experience.

Queensland University of Technology have also been developing student partnership processes.

Pilot projects saw staff and students working together to re-imagine curriculum. Their goal is to embed student partnership across the institution, while encouraging approaches that will complement individual discipline’s cultures. An interdisciplinary Working Party of staff and students was formed to guide implementation across the Institution. The Think Tank-Academic Governance (TTAG) has also been established to improve the way students engage in academic governance at QUT. The Think Tank members include students in representative roles on Committees and Boards, other students who are not in formal representative roles, and professional and Academic staff representing the co-curricular space, faculties and the Learning and Teaching Unit.

The QUT examples highlight the need for flexibility. Clearly a one size fits all approach won’t work. Nonetheless student partnership remains relevant no matter how students engage in learning. Students have a right to participate in shaping their experience and they have much to offer.

Sally Varnham
20 November 2017

Leave a Reply