Enhancing employability and engagement with the university through the student experience leaders (SEL) scheme
Keywords:students as partners, student voice, transferable skills
The University of Bedfordshire launched a new Education and Student Experience Strategy (2022-2026) that includes expanding students as partners opportunities as a key priority. The Student Experience Leaders (SEL) scheme was launched in 2022 and is managed by the Learning Development Team at the University of Bedfordshire in partnership with the Students’ Union. SEL provides opportunities for students to work with course teams and professional service staff to deliver curricular and co-/extra-curricular projects (aligned to key strategic priorities). SELs also act as representatives for Course Reps within faculties to champion the student voice.
We believe that the formal representation partnership co-led by the Students’ Union and Learning Development Team differentiates our scheme from more traditional Peer Assisted Learning schemes. Our approach, therefore, contributes to the wider learning development field in terms of redefining how learning development teams could co-lead students as partners initiatives within their institution.
Approximately 30 students have been recruited to the SEL scheme, which consists of nine projects from four faculties and two directorates. The SELs received training on various identified key transferable skills from the Learning Development Team and Students’ Union to support them in their roles. The Learning Development Team have also established and facilitated a community of practices for SELs. The first round of the scheme will conclude in June 2023 and will be evaluated through a narrative-focused and empirical evaluation using a mixed-methods approach. Pre- and post-questionnaires that focus on the transferable skills of SELs and focus group interviews will provide data for evaluation. This session considered the role of a Learning Development Team in leading a student as partners institutional scheme. We discussed how the SEL scheme will inform the future delivery of learning development at the University. We also considered how to best support students as partners in their role and how a learning development team can be effectively promoted through such activity.
University of Bedfordshire (2022). Education and Student Experience Strategy. Available at: https://www.beds.ac.uk/about-us/our-university/strategy/ (Accessed: 26 October 2023
Whitchurch, C. (2013) Reconstructing Identities in Higher Education: The rise of 'Third Space' professionals, SRHE Research into higher Education, Routledge Press.
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