August 7, 2023, by Aisia Lea
Encouraging Student-Staff Collaboration at Uni
Sometimes at university, it can feel like ‘us’ and ‘them’ when it comes to student-staff collaboration, but that is definitely not the case. Staff are very open to hearing student ideas and facilitating the implementation of these. However, it can feel daunting approaching staff and faculty with your ideas for change, so this blog post is there to guide you on how to do that.
Our student body is what drives change and innovation at our university, and your unique experiences on your course will give you exposure to a variety of circumstances and issues which may inspire you to develop something new, whether this is an alteration to content delivery, a new student project, or an event.
Step 1: Identify and investigate the change you want to make
A lot of the time, staff members are extremely busy with other commitments, so it’s important that when you do bring a proposal to them, you have a clear idea in mind. This can make it much easier for staff to understand and act on your request, or at least to discuss it with you. This does not necessarily have to be an entire project plan (although that would definitely help!), it’s good to have a brief overview or ‘pitch’ of your idea. What is the current problem or gap? How may this be addressed? What may the benefits be?
Step 2: Finding the right person
It can definitely feel like a bit of a minefield when you’re trying to get your idea to the right person. There are so many different staff members and faculties that it can be hard to navigate. In the first instance, you may wish to reach out to a staff member you are familiar with and see if they can direct you to the right person. Alternatively, you can reach out to your head of school, student services, or even do a quick Google of who you may think that the relevant team is.
Step 3: Make a plan
Once you’ve found the right person and made your pitch, try to put a plan together. When will you next meet? When will the follow-up be? It’s important to note that it may take staff a while to get around to things due to other commitments, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten! If this is the case, you can always send a polite follow-up email. Staff members will know which aspects of your plan may be feasible and which may not be, and they should be able to discuss with you the best ways to implement your plan.
Step 4: get some help!
It’s always worth reaching out to other students to see whether they would be interested in part taking in your plan with you. Depending on the nature of your plan, you may need a committee or just a few to support you. Either way, it’s always best to seek some help rather than taking on all the work yourself, as things can sometimes be isolating or can lead to burnout down the line.
Overall, it can seem difficult to approach a staff member, nerve-wracking even, but there’s no reason for it to be! It’s only by putting yourself out there that our students can facilitate positive change for our university community.
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