Topic briefing

Student engagement and consultation

Published 27 July 2020


Below are some examples of how providers have supported student engagement which you may find helpful when developing your own approaches. Some of these approaches may not yet be fully evaluated.

We will update this page with more examples of effective practice as we identify them. If you have, or are aware of, examples of effective practice in this area please contact [email protected].

Targeting underrepresented groups

The University of Birmingham sought feedback from student parents and carers through focus groups. As a result of this feedback, they developed targeted welcome and orientation events to support the access and participation of students with caring responsibilities.

Royal Holloway asked its students’ union representatives to provide feedback on their access and participation plan at all stages of its development. This included feedback on the importance of separating the data on black, Asian and minority ethnic students when addressing different ethnic groups as well as understanding the black, Asian and minority ethnic student experience as a whole.

The university has used this feedback to address the degree awarding gap.

Making engagement opportunities flexible

New College Durham holds bookable twilight student support appointments to ensure that different groups of students can effectively engage. This approach was adopted as drop-in sessions were not fully utilised.

Approaches like this allow students to feed in without the need for formal commitment.

Involving students in reviews of learning and teaching

The University for the Creative Arts’ students’ union led a pilot initiative focused on curriculum review which established a co-creation model with the university.

This approach has subsequently been adopted by the university’s Academic Quality Committee as a model for periodic review, and has also been used for investigating issues of equality and inclusivity across the university.

For example, the university ran workshops entitled ‘Queer to learn’ which arose out of students’ union research into the experience of LGBTQ+ students.

At Teesside University, students are actively involved in curriculum design through course approval and review events. The university has also implemented a module evaluation system with the intention of strengthening the student voice.

Gathering feedback directly from underrepresented students

As the beneficiaries of access and participation work, underrepresented students are particularly well placed to provide direct feedback on the difference this work can make.

Their experiences can provide valuable information for providers to develop or refine activities which improve student outcomes.

For example, The University of Leeds engaged with students from underrepresented groups as part of the Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme, collaborating with several other providers.

They invited postgraduate students to mentor undergraduate students to encourage them to progress to postgraduate study.

The postgraduate students shared their experiences and perspectives of the project with the access and participation team through different modes of communication including focus groups and webinars.

This feedback has been taken on board, and due to the success of the programme so far, the project is considering extending this work to more undergraduate students.

Read the full case study

Recruiting student engagement ambassadors

The University of Bath recruited four students as full-time Student Engagement Ambassadors for a year.

Their remit was to contribute to the university’s education strategy and to encourage student engagement with the university-wide curriculum transformation project. One ambassador focused on inclusivity, exploring how students from different backgrounds and experiences might be identified and engaged within curriculum redesign.

The ambassadors’ work also included:

  • organising and reporting on consultations
  • facilitating co-creation events
  • helping student ideas come to fruition
  • running focus groups and surveys with students, including underrepresented groups, to gather feedback on their learning and teaching experience through the lens of inclusivity
  • acting as a consultant to individual departments, commenting on curriculum-based student engagement plans and running engagement activities
  • providing training and resources for academics on inclusivity and the student experience
  • working with the library and equality, diversity and inclusion team to roll out a ‘Broaden my bookshelf’ initiative.
Published 27 July 2020
Last updated 30 September 2020
30 September 2020
Student engagement ambassadors example added

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