How can we maximise equity and diversity in student partnerships?

Lorna, Sibbett and Bhandari, Renu (2023). How can we maximise equity and diversity in student partnerships? In: 7th Biennial International Conference on Access, Participation and Success: ‘Through the looking glass: How Higher Education is using the lens of access, participation, and success to create equity for all students’, 26-27 Apr 2023, The Open University [Online].

Abstract

Abstract: There is growing recognition of the value of ‘Students as Partners’ in shaping Higher Education. Student-staff collaboration enriches development of curriculum, learning activities, resources and services that are learner-relevant and accessible. Student partners are motivated and bring valuable perspectives, but have we unintentionally limited the pool of potential partners? How do we minimise barriers to engagement and empower diverse students to find their voice as our partners?
In this workshop, we shall outline our approach to equity in student partnerships, using as an example the BUD (Belonging United Diverse) project. Then participants will be invited to share their ideas, experiences, reflections and successes, posting these to create a virtual wall of potential collaborators / consultants. Expect a few polls too.
The BUD project at the Open University sought to make more inclusive the online learning environment in Access modules. Student participation in online discussion forums was noticeably limited to a small proportion of white students; and autistic students were absent despite forming a significant proportion of one of the modules. The BUD project appointed paid student interns who could provide lived experience and / or expertise on Black and autistic student inclusion. Student interns were full partners in scholarship and acted as ‘buddies’ within the online discussion forum, modelling inclusive language. The proposal and implementation phases of the project required collaboration across the University: academic units; Careers and Employability Service; negotiation with potential intra-institutional funding streams; and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) advisers. Completion of the project is due in June 2023; here we present interim reflections and outcomes.
We invite participants to share their experiences in setting up an EDI students-as-partners (SAP) project: how did you reach / advertise to your potential student partners? Was it a challenge to reach the particular student identities you needed to be represented? How did you manage this challenge? How does your institution support SAP initiatives? We shall also invite participants to share their successes. For participants, who may be contemplating their first SAP project, you will have opportunities to share your ideas, concerns and challenges. Together we might maximise equity and diversity in student partnerships.

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