What is Students as Partners?

‘Students as partners’ (SaP), is a particular approach to student engagement, which grew out of concerns about how to engage 21st century students in their learning (Healey, Flint & Harrington, 2016). As a metaphor, SaP challenges ‘traditional assumptions about the identities of, and relationships between, learners and teachers’ (Matthews, 2017, p.1). Essentially SaP involves students as genuine contributors to all aspects of university life, from co-designing curricula to student-led peer mentoring programs, for example. It calls for a shift from merely listening to the student voice to engaging with them in decision-making processes in all apects of university life.

The concept of ‘listening to the student voice – implicitly if not deliberatively – supports the perspective of student as ‘consumer’, whereas students as change agent explicitly supports a view of the students as ’active collaborator’ and ‘co-producer’, with the potential for transformation (Dunne & Zandstra, 2011, p.4).