year end

As the working year draws to a close and I am on my way to New Zealand for Christmas with my family, I am writing to thank you all for your support and enthusiasm for my endeavours and for student partnership generally in the Australian tertiary education sector during my OLT project in 2015-2016 and my Fellowship this year.

It has been hugely busy and rewarding and I am full of hope that the meaningful and authentic engagement of student voice is on the way to becoming ‘the way we do things’ in the sector.  I would like to take the credit but in reality I am lucky to have been part of ‘the idea that’s time has come to Australia’.   There is so much evidence now emerging which suggests that it is a path worth travelling for the benefit of the sector in terms of enhancement of quality, student experience and professional development.

Thanks to your valuable input we have concluded the STEPUP for quality enhancement Principles and Framework, and a Toolkit to assist with facilitation.  The attendance at the 1 September symposium was phenomenal and its success was due to all of your contributions – particularly those who shared their student partnership initiatives – and hearing of the development of student engagement in Ireland from Cat O’Driscoll.   There is so much to be learned from other sectors.  I am fortunate to have had the sage advice of Eve Lewis from sparqs, and also the members of my Advisory Group here.

The dedicated and professional group of national student leaders – Sophie, Peter, Bijay and Sadie – have concluded MOUs with TEQSA and on Saturday they entered into an historic agreement to work collaboratively to progress student issues.  I have worked also with an amazing bunch of students, student leaders, student representatives and student body executives from institutions across Australia.  All have impressed me with their dedication and energy for progressing student voice at the same time as advancing their studies.

As well as the great collaborative workshops and the symposium, a high point was the TEQSA conference in November with its strong focus on student voice, with many of the 80 students present involved in sessions.

In 2018 I am hoping we can move further towards sustainable student partnership in the sector and I will be in touch with you again then.  Thank you to those institutions who have agreed to be part of the student partnership pilot – more needed.

Sadly, my Fellowship Manager Ann Cahill is moving on to new pastures though I am sure she will always maintain an interest in this area.  I’m sure you will all appreciate the hugely valuable role she has performed and thank her for that.

Please feel free to contact me at any time over the break – particularly if you have great ideas and suggestions.

In the meantime, wishing you all a very happy and relaxing holiday season.

Sally Varnham

19 Decmber 2017










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