Effective practice advice
Ways that higher education providers can support student engagement in access and participation activities include:
1. Involve your students’ union
Collaborate with your students’ union or association to ensure there are transparent mechanisms for student representation, for example student panels.
2. Make activities accessible and relevant
Provide a variety of opportunities and channels for student input and feedback to ensure that you gather views from a wide variety of students.
Providers should clearly communicate ways that students can get involved and what would be expected of them.
Students are more likely to engage with activities when they understand how they will be listened to and how their perspectives will influence the outcomes.
Offering both formal and informal opportunities to engage will help to break down some of the barriers to student engagement, such as time restrictions and accessibility concerns. Engagement opportunities could be offered online or in person and at times that fit around existing timetable commitments.
This will help to ensure that students from a diverse range of backgrounds and any targeted groups are included in the design, implementation and evaluation of your access and participation plan.
3. Ensure students are represented at a high level
Include student representatives on decision making panels so that student opinions can be taken on board when making changes to university processes, procedures and strategies.
Actively collaborate with student representatives in the preparation of papers and meeting content, ensuring that the format of these materials is accessible.
Support student representatives by giving them appropriate training and support for their roles, so they feel able to make informed and meaningful contributions.
4. Involve students in evaluation work
Providers can involve students in access and participation evaluation and monitoring activities by:
- ensuring that students are represented at committees responsible for reviewing the progress of access and participation plans
- contacting students who have taken part in intervention activities to evaluate the impact it has had on them, for example by using our financial support evaluation toolkit
- engaging with students’ unions to conduct research such as surveys and focus groups to gather information from the student body.
5. Communicate with students
Communicate throughout the implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes by providing feedback at each stage about what changes have been made as a result of the student voice.
Demonstrating that student engagement is resulting in real change can be an effective way of encouraging more students to get involved in the future.