5.1: Principles of student engagement
1. One of Durham's core values is its commitment 'to create communities in which critical thinking and creativity are combined with opportunities for personal growth and development, so that all can realise their full potential'. Durham therefore aims to provide those studying at the University with an educational experience that combines 'an academic education that is research-led and transformative' (drawing on the transformative research carried out within the University), with the 'exceptional opportunities for personal development in our residential college communities'. This commitment builds on, and is supported by, a culture of reflective practice that exists within both or student and staff communities.
2. The University has a long tradition of engaging with our students in the governance and management of the student learning experience, and Durham remains committed to engaging with the University's students in order to inform the development and enhancement of all aspects of its educational provision. Both the staff and students of the University are members of the academic, learning community that is the University, and within their academic departments are members of Durham's academic communities of practice. It is through a partnership of these two groups, based on mutual respect and drawing on the knowledge and experience of all members of these communities, that the University can most effectively enhance the formal and informal educational opportunities that it provides.
3. The principles that follow underpin the way that University works with our students to ensure that their views are appropriately considered and responded to.
4. The following principles underpin the ways in which the University engages with our students:
a. All students will have the opportunity to make their views on their educational experience known to the University, through representation on appropriate committees and other appropriate mechanisms (both formal and informal), and the University will ensure that these opportunities are made known to students.
b. The University will work with our students to monitor and enhance the quality of the educational experiences provided by the University.
c. The University recognises the need to be respectful of the demands made on the time of staff and students. It will ensure that its processes for engaging with students allow sufficient opportunity for students to provide the University with feedback, but that they do not make disproportionate demands on the time of students and staff.
d. The University will ensure that the mechanisms used for engaging with students are appropriate for the issue in question and the type of feedback being sought. It will not automatically default to using student questionnaires to obtain student feedback.
e. When the University engages with students it will clearly define the reasons for which it is doing so, and why the particular method of engagement was chosen. It will make this rationale available to the students being consulted.
f. Whenever the University formally seeks feedback from students, it will ensure that there are clear mechanisms in place for: analysing and considering this feedback; addressing in a timely way the issues it raises; and ensuring that those students who provided the feedback are informed about the action taken in response to their views. It will also ensure that these mechanisms are made known to the students from whom feedback is being sought, at the time that this feedback is sought.
g. The University will make provision for engaging with disabled students via the University's professional support services and through the Departmental Disability Representatives network. Whilst the University aims to be fully inclusive of disabled students at all times it recognises that non-disabled student representatives may not be best placed to represent the views of their disabled peers as there may be some disabled students who choose not to disclose their disability to fellow students.
h. The University's professional support services will engage with students to gain feedback on the support they provide to students. The processes for doing this will be co-ordinated to ensure that these processes are consistent with principles a. - f. Responsibility for this co-ordination rests with the Student Experience Sub-Committee of EC.
i. The University will make available training and development opportunities for staff and students involved in the University's processes for student engagement. These opportunities will be provided by a combination of Durham Students' Union, academic departments/schools and professional services.
j. Where students take on a representative role on a committee, the University will make clear the support that will be available to these representatives to allow them to undertake this role.
k. Where students serve on University committees as a student representative, the University will recognise this by recording their role and term of office.
5. This code of practice is supported by a number of annexes, policy statements that detail the University's expectations, and examples of effective practice, in key areas relating to student engagement. These statements cover:
a. Policy on student representation.
b. Policy on obtaining and responding to feedback from students.
c. Policy on the role of students in quality management.