How can we maximise equity and diversity in student partnerships?

Sibbett, Lorna; Bhandari, Renu; Ferdinand, Sarah; Salih, Nadiah; Webster, Andrew and Mckernan, Sarah (2023). How can we maximise equity and diversity in student partnerships? In: International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL 2023), 8-11 Nov 2023, Utrecht University, Netherlands.


There is growing recognition of the value of ‘Students as Partners’ in shaping Higher Education. Student-staff collaboration enriches development of curriculum, learning activities 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 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.

The BUD project at the Open University sought to make more inclusive the online distance learning environment. Student participation in online discussion forums was limited to a small proportion of white non-autistic students. The BUD project appointed paid student interns who provided lived experience and / or expertise on Black and autistic student inclusion. Student interns were full partners in scholarship and acted as ‘buddies’ within online discussion forums, 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.

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