Co-creating change: The Student-Staff Partnerships (SSP) initiative

13 Feb 2019

The University of Queensland is leading the way in student-staff engagement with the largest and most comprehensive Students as Partners initiative in Australia.

Thanks to a dedicated student employability team, the Student-Staff Partnership (SSP) initiative saw over 335 students and 140 staff collaborating on Partnership Projects in 2018. Classified into one of three streams: Teaching and Learning; Student Experience; and Governance & Strategy, all projects were designed with the aim of empowering students and staff to work in partnership to design, deliver and enhance the UQ student experience.

In 2019, participation in the initiative is expected to double. Four funding rounds will be available for students and staff to submit partnership project ideas. Seventy-one projects, equating to over 220 Student Partners and 100 Staff Partners, have successfully received funding for Student Partner grants for Round 1. 

To learn more about the initiative or to submit your project proposal, visit the SSP website

Student experience 

How are students contributing based on their own experiences?

Victor Hasa, a 2018 Science (honours) graduate and UQ Tutor, spoke to us about his participation in the Student-Staff Partnership initiative. As a student interested in learning design, Victor was able to contribute to the project by using his own learning experience and research to re-design course assessment rubrics and support improved learning outcomes for future students. Listen to his thoughts on SSP in this video or click on the video below.

Victor's video

Staff experience

Looking for a fresh perspective on student needs? Take a step into ‘learner mode’.

Dr Emma Bartle, Lecturer, School of Dentistry:

I’ve been privileged to work with student partners on a range of student experience projects in the School of Dentistry, from co-developing curriculum in a dental science course, to co-developing a first year peer mentoring program, [and] co-designing a student governance and representation experience for the School. I am proud of the outcomes that the students’ and I have achieved together, and can see it has made a meaningful impact on the dentistry students’ experience inside and outside of the classroom. As a teaching focused academic at UQ, I always describe my job to others as a ‘teacher’ however the SSP projects gave me a unique opportunity to shift and be ‘learner’ – hearing the student perspective made me challenge some of my assumptions as an educator and grow as a teacher; it made me better appreciate the hidden challenges of being a student in the current higher education landscape, and it reminded me why I do the job I do. I would strongly encourage staff to participate in the SSP initiative!

Project 1: Dentistry Resource Development
Dr Emma Bartle, Florina Besim, Tina Farhang, Anna Kelly, James Paek, Ebony Watson

Project 2: Enhancing the Dental Student Experience – A partnership to co-create and implement a suitable student governance
Dr Emma Bartle, Amanda Lin, Radin Manafi-Khosroshahi, Subin Moon, Boon Yee Ng, An Tran


Dr Gilbert Burgh, Senior Lecturer, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry:

Our SSP project has provided a unique opportunity to co-create a course on environmental philosophy – to be offered in Semester  1, 2019 – which embeds Indigenous content (epistemology, ontology and axiology) that aligns with tutorial activities and assessment to improve teaching and learning outcomes. Co-creating with undergraduate students previously enrolled in the course, a postgraduate tutor, and an Indigenous philosopher who was guest lecturer, enhanced my own professional and personal development through understanding students’ needs and enhancing their learning experiences, and gaining an understanding of a worldview from an Indigenous perspective rather than solely through Western ways of knowing. In conjunction with the launch of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we were able to work within UQ’s practical framework for building “respectful relationships and opportunities between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples.”

Project: Reconstructing environmental philosophy using Indigenous philosophy: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment
Dr Gilbert Burgh, Simone Thornton, Olivia Jordan and Mercedes Burton with Mary Graham