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Students as Partners Toolkit


First Steps for SaP

Imogen Harris-McNeill

Congrats! You’ve decided to start a new SaP project. Whether this is your first time, or your hundredth SaP project, it always a good idea to start with the basics to ensure your project is a smashing success. 


Step 1: Set your goals

It may sound obvious, but it is important when starting a new SaP project that you’re clear on the goals and aims of the project. 

As well as considering the strategic or operational project goals, it’s a good idea to take some time to think about the learning goals or objectives within a project. As outlined above, reciprocal learning is key to student partnership. Consider what the learning objectives are (what would you like to learn from the partnership experience?), and what learning opportunities there might be for your student partners. Thinking about this early on can allow you to build time and resources into your project plan, to enable this learning.

Step 2: Consider your partners

It can be useful to pose yourself the question “What am I missing when I don’t involve students?” as a way of thinking through the ways in which students contribute unique value to the project and help to achieve the project goals. Being clear on this from the beginning can help your team to better articulate the expertise each partner brings to the table, to agree roles and expectations, and to design the project in such a way as to maximise the value and mutual benefit for all involved.


Remember that there is no singular ‘student experience’, but rather a multitude of lived experiences as students, and that every student will bring a different perspective to your project. It is important to proactively seek diverse representation, and to think about how you can ensure your SaP project is inclusive and equitable, right from the start of planning.

Step 3: Pick your approach (or approaches!)

Being clear on your project and learning goals can help with the next step, which is to figure out what SaP approach or approaches might work best for your project. As outlined above, there are many different approaches to student partnership, and which one(s) your project draws on will depend on the project’s goals and context.