Professor Colin Riordan discusses launch of Partnership Statement

Over the past decade, the higher education landscape has witnessed many significant changes. As this landscape has transformed, so too has the way in which we interact with our students. The student voice now plays a critical part in our approach.

Student engagement encompasses the ways in which students become active partners in shaping their learning experiences. Students can be partners at every level of higher education – from shaping their own personal learning to influencing curriculum design and delivery, from prompting developments in their school or department to co-developing university wide policy, and even influencing policy makers at the national level.

Across Wales, students are actively engaging at every level within their universities, and gone are the days when students only saw their vice-chancellor at graduation! Today’s students don’t just want more interaction with decision makers, but better quality interaction. This is why universities across Wales are moving beyond simply informing and consulting students on their experiences. We are working to ensure students are directly involved in the leadership, management, development and delivery of their learning experiences.

Today marks a significant step in our journey towards embedding this partnership approach with students. Today, on behalf of Higher Education Wales, I signed up to a sector-wide statement on partnership. The statement explains what we mean by partnership in higher education, and recognises that partnership is a unique experience for each university, each students’ union and each student.

For partnership to flourish, we must encourage the development of an inclusive higher education community. One that is based on mutual respect and working together. Higher education in Wales has already made significant strides towards this partnership agenda. Every university in Wales has a Student Charter, which was developed in partnership with its students. Every university in Wales has at least one student on its governing body. Every university in Wales is taking part in the quality enhancement initiative Future Directions, of which Students as Partners is a key theme. Every university in Wales is embracing partnership.

The 21st century student is enthusiastic, committed and keen to engage. Students bring an added dimension and viewpoint to discussions that can be hugely beneficial, which is why I’m delighted that Wales is embracing partnership. Partnership is a culture and an ethos, and we believe Wales is leading the way in its approach.

To view the full statement: Partnership Statement

Professor Colin Riordan
Chair, Higher Education Wales