Supporting and enhancing the delivery of a culture of student partnership throughout the student journey, from enrolment to graduation
Student Partnership and Engagement is an integral and embedded activity at Swansea University. The QAA Institutional Review Report 2014 identified as good practice “the involvement of undergraduate students as partners in the development of enhancement initiatives”. This, in turn, supported the University’s commendation within the QAA Institutional Review Report for the enhancement of student learning opportunities.
The culture of partnership working with students was identified as a key priority in the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020 through “working in partnership with students to provide opportunities to shape their educational experience, to develop their learning and to support student engagement and achievement”. The University’s revised Learning and Teaching Strategy is student centred with student partnership and engagement being essential to the delivery of the six objectives contained within the strategy.
The University and Students’ Union are committed to the ‘Wise Wales’ culture of meaningful partnership between educators, students’ unions and students across Wales, sharing best practice and putting the student voice at the heart of what we do. The Strategy fully embeds the Wise Wales principles of ‘Valuing Feedback’, ‘Harnessing Expertise’ and ‘Working in Partnership’.
The Student Engagement Strategy is consistent with and takes full account of the principles, advice and guidance contained in the 2018 QAA Quality Code for Higher Education – Student Engagement.
The Strategy reflects the role of students as partners and is intended to further enhance the development of strong student engagement at all levels and in all areas of the university.
It is recognised that student engagement is developing and changing rapidly and as such the strategy is designed to be enabling and dynamic to embrace change both within the University, its student population and the sector at large.
The Student Partnership and Engagement Team within Academic Services is responsible, through the University’s Student Partnership and Engagement Committee, for providing reports to Council and other bodies of the implementation of the Strategy for Student Engagement.
Consistent with the QAA Quality Code, Student Engagement includes the participation of students in influencing and improving their educational experience through quality assurance and enhancement processes as equal partners and students fully engaging in their own learning as active partners in the learning process. The University places a high value on empowering the student voice through mechanisms that seek to improve the wider student experience embracing the non-academic student experience and the provision of services and facilities.
The University will actively promote, support and use effective student representation at all levels of decision making.
Principle one focuses entirely on student voice and representation that is delivered by both the Student Representative System and other mechanisms within the University, such as Unitu, Student Opinion Panels etc. The system is owned by the Students’ Union but facilitated and delivered in partnership with the Student Partnership and Engagement Team in Academic Services.
- Strengthen partnership working between the university and Students’ Union, working on shared initiatives that can impact on the student experience.
- Increase the number of democratically elected student representatives and the volume of representation.
- Increase the training opportunities for both staff and students on student engagement.
- To continue to work in partnership with the Students’ Union to develop and enhance an effective system of College and Subject representatives and to provide sufficient resources for such work to be developed.
- Enhance the training for student representatives, ensuring it caters for specific needs e.g Postgraduate Research Students.
- Develop a communications plan in partnership with the Students’ Union to enhance the University’s communications with student representatives and their engagement with the wider student community.
- Support the Students’ Union with the delivery of the Education Zone – the forum that provides the Students’ Union and the Students’ Union Education Officer an opportunity to engage with their student representative community.
- Student Partnership and Engagement Services Team to support the Student Representative training events through the year.
- Promote in partnership with the Students’ Union, Student Voice events including Speak Week, Study Aid, the Student Representative Conference, surveys and other events.
- To support the Student Representatives in obtaining the HEAR Student Representative Award by providing them with appropriate development and engagement opportunities.
- Student Partnership and Engagement Committee to review the student charter on an annual basis.
The University will seek to ensure that Student Engagement is an ethos that is embedded into everyday practice.
Supported by the Student Partnership and Engagement Team and guided by the Students’ Union, Colleges and Professional Services will ensure that student engagement and the student voice is central in the deployment of academic and experiential activities and that the ethos of co-creation and partnership underpins delivery.
- Deliver a training programme for staff to support the promotion of a Student Engagement ethos at all levels, meetings and environments, be they educational or experiential.
- Appoint Student Engagement Leads, both academic and administrative, in all Colleges to act as local champions in promoting and supporting this ethos.
- Support the delivery of the ‘Together We Changed’ campaign across the entire University community.
- Hold regular Student Engagement Lead forums to share good practice and enhancement initiatives.
- Support the student led awards including Excellent in Student Support Awards and Excellence in Learning and Teaching Awards.
- Colleges and professional Services to hold meetings with student representatives to review feedback responses and co-create actions plans.
- Hold regular college level Student Staff Forums.
- Embed students as co-creators in the planning and delivery of their academic provision.
- Fully support the module feedback programme, ensuring students and staff engage with the process at the interim and end of module stages.
This principle focuses on engaging students as active and informed participants in academic quality assurance and enhancement and enabling students to have a key stake in shaping their academic experience. It will also support student engagement for the purpose of shaping the direction of future provision through programme development, approval, maintenance and review, utilising a body of students who are trained and valued members of the groups that facilitate the delivery of these objectives.
- Recruit and train a body of students to act as a ‘Reviewer Community’.
- Deliver a training programme to ensure that these students are confident and equipped with the skills to fully engage with these processes.
- Ensure students are equipped to inform the processes of curriculum design, programme approval and review activities as co-creators.
- Fully engage with the Students’ Union and the wider student body in partnership to ensure that communication around programmes, regulations, support and opportunities are timely, transparent and fully consulted on. This will also include consultation on University Wide Strategy and changes to both academic and experiential offerings.
- Seek to increase engagement with Module Feedback, Student Surveys and other feedback and engagement opportunities, ensuring that they offer inclusive opportunities for all students to engage.
- Ensure students receive timely and appropriate feedback to responses given in both module feedback surveys, all surveys and feedback mechanisms such as Unitu.
- Deliver the ‘Together We Changed’ campaign to demonstrate how the University responds to student feedback at all levels.
This principle focuses on the embedding of a student engagement ethos throughout the entire University. Each Professional Service and all that they deliver should be informed by the student voice. This theme will support the wider university community in realising this and will support the delivery and implementation of mechanisms to support and enhance this activity throughout the University.
The delivery of this principle will be supported by the Student Partnership and Engagement Team and guided by the Students’ Union.
- Hold regular Senior Management Team and Students’ Union Full Time Officers meetings to discuss issues directly and reach timely solutions on student led issues.
- Ensure that committee structures provide appropriate platforms for the Student Voice, i.e, the Student Partnership and Engagement Committee and Campus Experience Groups.
- Ensure that student engagement opportunities are present throughout the entire student journey, from enrolment to graduation.
- Ensure that student feedback is appropriate and timely avoiding over surveying and ensuring feedback is efficient.
- Work closely with the Students’ Union and the Full Time Officer team to support them in delivering their manifestoes and providing them with training.
- Ensure that student engagement is prioritised in the planning, implementation and review of services, strategy and policy.
- Provide information that is available before the survey season to promote completion and understanding of the surveys.
- Develop mechanisms to review survey responses and trends across years to demonstrate increases and decreases and make these available to view to the student body.
- Ensure that Unitu and student feedback gathered through less formal means, is acted upon and engaged with.
- Develop a student communications strategy to complement this strategy.
This principle focuses on the vital importance of ensuring that our student representative system and student voice mechanisms provide our diverse student population the opportunity to feedback on their University experience. This should be regardless of their background, mode of study, abilities or personal circumstances. Ensuring that we are able to break down any barriers and encourage engagement from traditionally ‘hard to reach’ groups. Moulding and improving our approaches to facilitate and support their engagement. We will work to support the engagement of all students including international, part-time, mature students, master’s students, research students, commuter students, students with caring responsibilities, foundation students, students in ‘The College’ and DACE those on less traditional programmes and students with disabilities by developing initiatives that suit their needs. Considering accessibility and mode of delivery and ensuring options are available for students to engage with feedback and ensure appropriate training is available and accessible to all.
- To work with the Students’ Union to ensure that the Student Representative body reflects the diversity of our student population.
- To work with the Students’ Union to ensure that students with protected characteristics are encouraged and supported and have as much opportunity to engage as other students.
- To develop new ways to engage with students who may not be on campus, i.e. commuter students, those engaging in placements or research off campus.
- Seek to develop opportunities to engage with students at partner organisations.
- Support and advise staff on the delivery of feedback and training that is inclusive and appropriate.
This theme focuses on facilitation of the Students as Partners ideal, ensuring that our student body are considered as equals and trained and valued appropriately. Fostering an environment of co-creation and problem solving and indeed celebration in partnership.
- Students will co-chair student staff forum meetings and receive actions post meeting to deliver.
- Provide opportunities for students to become co-creators of their own education and empowering them to lead change.
- The University will give due consideration to the timing of requests for feedback to ensure that students are available to engage with the entire process and will also look to employ more varied modes of engagement that ensure students can access information and training.
- Encourage the development of mechanisms for students and staff to develop solutions in partnership.
- To support collaboration projects between students and staff by providing opportunities such as SLATES (Swansea Learning and Teaching Enhancement Scheme).
- Ensure that Colleges and the Students’ Union promote the Student Representative programme and that they make students aware of the representatives.
- Ensure that meetings have student representation, where appropriate.
- Celebrate the successes of our student representative community with awards and recognition.
Whilst this strategy will sit underneath the main University strategic plan, the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation will be the responsibility of the Student Partnership and Engagement Committee who will receive regular updates on progress.
The Key Performance indicators for this strategy include:
- Exceed our national benchmark for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey.
- Increased year on year scores and engagement levels in the PGTSES, PGRSES and SES surveys.
- Increase the number of student representatives, both formally appointed and democratically elected by the Students’ Union and as representatives on Student Opinion Panels and within the Student Reviewer Community.
- Increase engagement with Unitu and other informal student feedback mechanisms, such as focus groups and food for thought events.
- Increase engagement with Module Feedback Surveys.
- Increased number of students receiving training as student representatives, student ambassadors, Unitu users, and the student reviewer community.
- Improved student representative attendance rates at College, Department and University Committees.