Student Engagement

Student Engagement

Student Engagement

“Higher Education (HE) is a partnership between universities and colleges and
their students.” Sir Alan Langlands, The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP), Chair

Student engagement is an important agenda in Higher Education (HE).  HE institutions are required to have their own definition of the term under the Quality Assurance Agency’s (QAA) Quality Code. Over the last few weeks, Yorkshire Universities has begun exploring the concept in more detail. 

The starting point was to understand what student engagement means. Student engagement is an umbrella term capable of several different interpretations, and driven by the context in which it is taking place. Although there is no fixed definition of the term, there are a number of dimensions where student engagement can (and should) occur. Most obviously, students need to engage with their academic courses. Then, more broadly, with the departments in which they are studying, contributing ideas (for example) on how the course offering could be improved. Beyond that, there is engagement with the institution, for example with its governance and strategy development. More immediately, students engage socially, with other students via societies, the clubs and their students’ union (they may take a part in running the union). Finally, there is engagement with the community within which students live – their neighbourhood, their town or city-perhaps through various forms of volunteering. 

There are some great resources for students and staff interested in student engagement; for example, The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP), is a HEFCE funded project which seeks to support sharing of good practice, by fostering a ‘conversation’ around student engagement. RAISE (Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement) is an on-line network where practitioners, students and academics can share ideas and resources.  

This brings us back to Yorkshire Universities’ interest in student engagement. We know that as well as supporting their own institutions’ strategies for student engagement, our members are keen to work together in this area, and the opportunities for collaboration across Yorkshire’s universities are really exciting. In order to develop this area of work further, we are currently organising a meeting with students’ union presidents to discuss their ideas for student engagement, and to explore ways in which collaboration could enhance this activity.We hope that this will lead to some exciting new projects in the region; we will keep you updated on our progress. 

By Jo Barham, Yorkshire Universities


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