Australian Learning and Teaching National Senior Teaching Fellow, Professor Sally Varnham (UTS) is pursuing sector-wide collaboration to develop an agreed set of principles, a framework for student engagement in university decision-making and toolkits to assist universities in the implementation of these principles through her fellowship entitled Creating a National Framework for Student Partnership in University Decision-making and Governance.
Fellowship contact details:
Sally Varnham (Fellow)
Tel: (02) 95143455
Mob: 0415 392 834
Ann Cahill (manager)
Background to the fellowship
The OLT Strategic Priority Commissioned Project led by Professor Sally Varnham, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney 2015-2016 aimed to develop more systemic approaches to the inclusion of student voice in decision-making and governance in Australian universities, relating not only to activities at the highest levels of governance, but also student representative activities at faculty, school and course level.
In the first phase of the project, Professor Varnham worked with members of her extensive international network to identify good practices in the formal provision for student participation in university governance and decision-making in UK, New Zealand and Europe. A series of interviews with key personnel from universities, student associations and various agencies led to the development of a map of key concepts that emerge as important to effective engagement of students in decision-making and governance.
Phase 2 of the project involved a survey of Australian tertiary education institutions to determine the range of approaches and the mechanisms for active student engagement being adopted in Australia. The survey was informed by a national survey undertaken by the University of Bath for the UK Quality Assurance Agency and the information collected in phase 1. This survey was supplemented by interviews with staff from some participating institutions, a survey of student leaders from Australian institutions and student focus groups.
A further aspect to this phase of the project was desk research which examined published evidence around the context and practice of student engagement in decision making and governance in Australian institutions.
The third and final phase of the project related to development and sharing of good practice in student engagement. The results of the institutional survey showed that there were already some excellent practices occurring here in Australia. Consequently the project team captured examples in a series of case studies that have been included in project reports. There was also opportunity to pursue a small pilot project in a university wanting to trial effective practices identified in the study with their own student cohorts.