Students as Partners at UNSW

Students as partners is a way of thinking that positions students as change agents who share responsibility for learning and teaching with university staff.  It extends beyond student engagement that fosters active learning; it shifts students from a position of learning from to learning with academics. This enables students to be partners in the creation of knowledge and development of teaching innovations. Staff and students interested in Students as Partners at UNSW are invited to join regular meetings held by the PVC (Education) Portfolio, subscribe to the network mailing list below.

Recent events

UTS Students as Change Agents Symposium at UTS

On 1 September Professor Sally Varhnam held a symposium at UTS to disseminate and discuss her principles for student partnership in university decision making developed through her nationally funded Senior Teaching Fellowship. Representatives from 16 universities shared their examples of Students as Partners initiatives. One of the interesting examples from Murdoch University was the Students as Change Agents in Learning and Teaching initiative which gives students the opportunity to propose project based innovative solutions to change learning and teaching practices.

Summaries of all the intitiatives shared at the symposium can be found here.


Upcoming Network Meetings

We are currently in the process of planning network meetings for 2018. This page will be updated by early December 2017.





Case Studies of Students as Partners at UNSW initiatives

The Office of the PVC (Education) is capturing information on existing Students as Partners initiatives at UNSW. If you and your colleagues are already involved in a Students as Partners initiative, please provide the details of your initiative here


Other Students as Partners initiatives and events across Australia

September 1:  Students as Partners Symposium, University Technology Sydney

9 October: 2017 National Students as Partners Roundtable, The University of Adelaide


Past Events: 2017

Students as Decision Makers

Thursday 8 June | 10.00 - 12.00 pm | Room 208, Ground Floor, Library

Presented by: Professor Sally Varnham, Professor of Law, University of Technology Sydney

Australian universities are taking up the challenge to engage in student partnerships. Now there is an opportunity to take the best of these practices and develop a sector-wide approach that recognises the challenges institutions face and endorses strategies to address them.

Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching funded research led by Professor Sally Varnham (UTS) (2015-2016) has shown that the systemic participation of students in decision-making and governance in universities is developing strongly in comparative sectors and is providing positive outcomes for universities. Several factors have emerged as being key to student participation towards developing a culture of student partnership including communication of opportunities and outcomes, effective valued and supported student leadership, development of representative experience, resources for training and support, capturing every student's voice, support and incentives for student representatives. 


Slides of the presentation are available here

Student Voice website - Sally Varnham 

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2016 Student as Partners Symposium

On Thursday 7 April 2016 the Students as Partners at UNSW Symposium provided the opportunity for staff and students to engage with core ideas of Students as Partners and to consider how this connects with the future directions of UNSW.  The morning session focused on exploring current thinking and practice related to Students as Partners to consider how this might align with the UNSW 2025 Strategy. The afternoon session was an action-planning session for those who wish to develop their ideas or projects more fully.



Professor Geoffrey Crisp
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), UNSW

Geoff joined UNSW as PVC (Education) in February 2016 and will play a key role in driving the development and implementation of the educational components of the UNSW 2025 Strategy.





Dr Kelly Matthews
OLT Fellow, University of Queensland

Kelly has undertaken an OLT Fellowship centred on the area Students as Partners. Details of her research can be found here.






Presentation slides

Morning session slides

Afternoon session slides


Exploring Students as Partners at UNSW

Professor Geoff Crisp, PVC (Education), UNSW
Students-Staff Partnerships to Shape Higher Education 
Dr Kelly Matthews, OLT Fellow, University of Queensland
This session engages participants in discussion about students as partners.  It considers definitions, motivations, current practices, and emerging research. Models are presented to prompt conversations about outcomes, barriers and opportunities of student-staff partnerships.  These will be explored across different levels from courses, programs through to institutional levels. The emphasis is on students-staff partnerships in curriculum development and pedagogic consultation.
What does this mean for UNSW in light of the 2025 Strategy? 
Professor Geoff Crisp, PVC (Education), UNSW

Action Planning Session: Students-Staff Partnerships at UNSW
Dr Kelly Matthews, OLT Fellow, University of Queensland
This planning session will identify existing efforts in this space and extend them, where appropriate whilst also creating space for new ideas. It will involve small groups developing ideas for:
•    what students as partners initiatives could look like at UNSW at the course, program and institutional levels
•    how it could be implemented in the short and medium-term
•    what enablers are required for such initiatives to be implemented
•    how evidence of effectiveness will be captured

How might we go from here to there?
Facilitated by the Learning and Teaching Unit



If you have any qqueries about this initiative please contact us