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Students as Partners Toolkit


Staff Perspective: Common Challenges and Recommendations

Kate Conway


As a staff partner, you will have a different experience of partnership from your student partners and will face different challenges.  Below are the most common challenges reported by staff, and some solutions.



Budget constraints

  • Start small – work with one or two students so costs are low.  Once you’ve demonstrated your success you can expand.
  • Consider whether alternatives to financial remuneration for student partners may be appropriate.

Doubts from managers or colleagues about using the Students as Partners approach

  • Clearly articulate the reasons for choosing this approach and the benefits this will bring for this project.  
  • Find examples of similar projects which have succeeded using a Students as Partners approach.

Uncertainty as to what can realistically be expected of student partners

  • Plan recruitment and onboarding of student partners carefully – be explicit about roles, expectations, and ways of working at the beginning of the project.
  • Consult with colleagues who have experience working with student partners.
  • Check in with student partners regularly during the project to check that they are comfortable with what is being asked of them.
  • Be aware of students’ study commitments and build in flexibility to accommodate their schedules.

Fear of failure if control over the project is ceded to student partners

  • Pitch the project as a pilot or test-case for the Students as Partners approach.
  • Set aside time throughout the project to check in with student partners, listen to them, and be prepared to adjust focus or outcomes based on their feedback.
Logistical/ operational problems
  • Join or initiate a Students as Partners community of practice so you can share what works.