University of Newcastle Library launches Student as Partners Framework

This post was written by Coral Black, University Librarian at the University of Newcastle.

The University of Newcastle Library launched its new Students as Partners Framework on 27 July, building on our strong reputation in delivering excellent student support this takes us one step further where students co-create and co-deliver our services as an integral member of our library team. 

The new framework outlines how we engage and collaborate meaningfully with students through partnership and employment. Our aim is to increase the number of students we employ, engage through internships or on WIL placements to enhance the student experience and help facilitate life-ready graduates.

The Students as Partners Framework is designed to:

  • provide a common language and conceptual lens for staff and students to understand collaborative engagement and Students as Partners approaches.
  • assist in identifying and developing opportunities for student employment and partnerships within the Library.
  • guide thinking and decision making as staff and students generate ideas and begin to develop opportunities, projects, and activities. 

This Framework describes many initiatives the Library has been undertaking for some time, including paid internships, Work Integrated Learning (WIL) projects, paid project related roles, and volunteer roles for students. It distils and formalises the Library’s approach by describing three distinct pillars to which these activities align. These broad anchoring categories help to define the different ways that the Library engages collaboratively with students.​ The pillars are:

  • Employed and Upskilled
  • Included and Empowered
  • Informed and Heard. 
Venn diagram with three overlapping circles: Employed and Upskilled; Included and Empowered; Informed and Heard. An icon representing a student sits at the point where the three circles overlap.
Three pillars: Employed and Upskilled; Included and Empowered; Informed and Heard

The Students as Partners Framework is also a launching pad to expand the scope of student collaborations to identify and develop new ideas and opportunities. To this end, the Framework outlines ten Key Considerations for Library staff and students to inform thinking as we develop new opportunities and evolve existing ones. The considerations relate to:

  1. Inclusiveness
  2. Expertise
  3. Learning
  4. Agency
  5. Recognition
  6. Relevance
  7. Expectations
  8. Reach
  9. Perspectives
  10. Accountability
Inclusiveness: Proactively seek diverse representation 
Expertise: Acknowledge and value students' lived experience as expertise
Learning: Centre learning opportunities and acknowledge teaching and learning as reciprocal
Agency: Credit, reward and remunerate student contributions
Relevance: Create meaningful and relevant opportunities with reciprocal benefit and value
Expectations: Agree realistic expectations and provide appropriate support
Reach: Consider ways to increase the number of students who benefit
Perspectives: Incorporate a range of student voices and perspectives
Accountability: Ensure access to opportunities is equitable, transparent, and accountable.
Ten Key Considerations

The Library will use this Framework to create diverse, inclusive, relevant, transparent, and impactful opportunities for students. Students will be listened to as equal partners, whose expertise is acknowledged and whose contributions are valued and recognised. They will be able to affect change, directly enhancing the student experience and creating life-ready graduates.

Read the Students as Partners Framework. Questions? Contact Imogen Harris-McNeill, Coordinator, Student Employment and Partnerships.

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