Skip to Main Content

Students as Partners Toolkit


Case Study: Developing a Client and Enquiry Services Quality Assurance Framework at UTS Library

Danielle Ambriano


Project Description

In Brief

Domain of SaP Students as Consultants and Co-Designers
Library Area or Department Access Services Department
Number of Student Partners 1
Number of Staff 3
Goal To provide a student/client perspective in developing a quality assurance framework.

All the Details

In 2021 Access Services at UTS Library embarked on a project to develop a quality assurance framework to support and improve our client services and enquiries management. This came after spending the previous few years planning, delivering, and implementing a large number of strategic projects around the future library programme including a move to a new building, delivery and implementation of new systems and new ways of working and of course the challenges brought on by Covid-19 pandemic. In developing a quality assurance framework, our aim was to ensure that we not only maintain but exceed the quality of our client services and to ensure continual improvement. As part of this process, we wanted to ensure we are always keeping our clients at the forefront of our decisions and providing a consistent and accurate service across all service delivery points.

A small project team was put together from within our department. We also made the decision to recruit a student intern to work alongside us to provide a student perspective in developing and creating a framework that we could implement across the department and the enquiries management services.


Issues and Challenges

The biggest challenge for us was that engaging a SaP as part of our department’s approach to our work and services was new for the team. As we wanted to ensure clients are always at the forefront of all our considerations, we decided that this was a perfect opportunity to engage a SaP to obtain their perspective as a student/user of our services and how we could develop and use a quality assurance framework to monitor and improve our services to clients. We wanted to use this experience to identify the challenges, issues and successes that arose and if engaging a SaP would be useful for future projects or work within the department. 
Our main challenge was ensuring we understood the concepts regarding SaP and that we kept in the forefront of our minds that they were not one of our normal student casuals. This involved a big shift in our thinking and how we approached our working relationship with them for this project. It was easy to slip back into the supervisor/team member roles we are so used to and had to actively remind ourselves that this was a partnership and not a traditional supervisor / employee relationship. 
Our other main challenge was related to the timeline. We had already completed a portion of the framework and had developed ideas around what we wanted to achieve and our outcomes. Bringing in a SaP at a later date proved challenging as ideally, we would have wanted our SaP to be involved from the beginning. The on boarding process proved to be more complex as we wanted to ensure they had a good understanding of the department and enquiries management before commencing the project and that took longer than anticipated which delayed the project slightly. 
Our main benefit was gaining knowledge from their student perspective. Our SaP was able to bring a fresh and unique perspective and it got us thinking about things we hadn’t quite thought of. They were able to work with us on developing further ideas and provided feedback on the parts of the framework that had already been developed. They also designed, developed and led 2 staff workshops using their own student experience for our team so we could obtain staff perspective and feedback on: Standards of services and expectations for staff and Making our physical services more approachable for our clients. This involved our SaP using their student experience to devise scenarios for our staff to brainstorm and provide solutions and feedback including ideas around developing exceptional customer service and staff training and development. Our SaP was able to encourage our staff to provide their feedback and the sessions proved to be extremely useful in determining staff training for Autumn session 2022, for developing service guidelines and expectations to guide our staff in their client interactions and noting some potential ideas around making our physical services more approachable. 


What I Have Learned

As with Curtin, we started this project not knowing a great deal about SaP, the principles behind it or having experience with working with a SaP. Reflecting on this we could have improved on our initial research of what a SaP project involved and how we communicated better to the project team and wider department exactly what a SaP was and how it could benefit us for this project. 

Whilst we had some challenges around this especially in terms of keeping the relationship balanced, it proved to be a worthwhile and successful experience. For future engagement of SaP it would be beneficial to have some guidelines available for staff involved in what the principles behind a SaP are, how to engage effectively with a SaP and how to communicate this to the wider team to ensure the best outcomes for everyone.

The trial led to success in reciprocal learning principles of SaP and actively involving our SaP in the design and analysis of our project. The SaP led workshops were a success and proved to be a worthwhile experience for both the SaP and our team in viewing scenarios and issues from a student perspective. This led to positive outcomes for the SaP, team, and the project. Overall, the experience was positive, and I would consider involving a SaP for future projects.