Students as Partners

What is Students as Partners (SaP)?

The Students as Partners (SaP) approach positions students as active partners, it starts with staff actively seeking and genuinely listening to their feedback and experiences to help create an inclusive and holistic student experience. Beyond this, we create student-staff partnerships that ensure students play a central role in co-creating improvements in their experience of curriculum, services, and their overall university experience.

The Students as Partners approach not only transforms their educational experience but also fosters a university environment where students truly perceive the institution as their own.

Students as Partners Framework (SaPF)

The University of Adelaide's Students as Partnership Framework (SaPF) is designed to support staff when developing student partnerships. SaPF outlines the purpose of student partnerships, the principles guiding them, and the levels and methods of engagement.

Key advantages of the SaPF include:

  • For Students: It provides a stronger sense of belonging, better engagement, and improved employability through personal and professional development.
  • For Staff: Staff receive valuable insights for decision-making and more straightforward access to honest feedback.
  • For the University: The framework cultivates a culture of partnership, mutual respect, and heightened student satisfaction.

SaPF aligns with other university engagement frameworks, including those in the Learning Enhancement and Innovation unit and the University Library. Finally, the framework is aligned with and supported by the university's Student Partnership Values.

Review the Students as Partners Framework (SaPF)

Students as Partners guiding principles

  • Inclusive – all students have voice

    Partnerships proactively seek diverse representation that reflects the university’s student cohort, ensuring opportunities are accessible to all students, regardless of background. Partnership opportunities should consciously identify and remove barriers to student participation such as financial, time, and confidence constraints that could limit the diversity of input and quality of outcomes.

  • Empowered – student voice has impact

    Partnership opportunities acknowledge that a student’s lived experience provides a different but equally valuable contribution. Clearly defining this value ensures student feedback and input is positioned as both genuinely valued and prioritised. Partnerships should only occur if student voice is listened to, acted upon, and outcomes fed back. Appropriate role description, onboarding and ongoing support seeks to ensure student partners are positioned to provide high quality input.

  • Relevant – impact is on areas important to students

    Student partnerships should have value and benefit to both the university and students. For student partners, this means contributing to projects seeking to enhance the student experience that are meaningful and they care about. In addition, partnership participation should enhance student partner’s skills, knowledge, and growth personally and professionally. To support this, student’s motivations and expectations should be understood and consideration of reward and recognition made.

5 approaches to student partnership

The purpose of the below is to outline the five levels of engagement to partnership. For detailed information, refer the Students as Partners Framework (SaPF).

If you require further assistance, contact the Students as Partners Team.

  • 1. Inform: Students as users

    The initial phase aims to inform students, laying the groundwork for collaboration. Its primary goal is one-way communication, sharing crucial information, updates, and insights to create awareness and prepare for interactive partnership in later stages. 


    • Social media posts
    • Email notifications
    • Student news
    • Physical installations 

    Ready to inform? Student Communications

  • 2. Consult: Students as consultants

    The "Students as Consultants" strategy involves students actively contributing their insights to shape outcomes and decisions, going beyond mere feedback. This approach showcases staff commitment to understanding and appreciating students' perspectives, making it ideal for those new to student partnerships. It serves as a foundational step, empowering staff to gather valuable insights and fostering collaboration to enhance the student experience.


    • Surveys (e.g. ‘share your voice’/‘help us improve’)
    • Ad hoc feedback (e.g. via whiteboards, MS forms)
    • Interactive social media posts - online polls or voting exercises
    • Event support volunteers

    Ready to consult? Student Communications

    Support with volunteers? Volunteer

  • 3. Participate: Students as co creators – co design

    Genuine partnerships go beyond involvement, involving students in co-designing, actively contributing their expertise, and collaborating on projects. In this approach, students take on specific roles, engaging in activities that shape outcomes.

    When students are co-creators, they have the authority to make decisions and actively influence future initiatives. In these collaborative approaches, students don't just participate; they actively co-create, co-design, and co-deliver.


    • Focus groups
    • Forums (face to face or online)
    • Committee participation
    • Community of Practice attendance
    • Learning support – review of support services
    • Review of content
    • In curriculum support
    • Partnering with students to assist staff in conducting focus groups, interviews, or surveys, moving beyond a consultancy role

    Ready to co-design? Review here.

    Further support: Contact the Students as Partners Team.

  • 4. Partner: Students as co-leaders

    Students actively collaborate, sharing ownership and decision-making throughout projects. This partnership between staff and students involves joint delivery, facilitation, and decision-making, emphasising genuine collaboration where students are considered true partners.

    "Students as Co-leaders" is a meaningful form of student partnership, involving partners from the project's start, with shared visions and voices heard and acted upon. Both parties contribute expertise to co-create and design for success.


    • Learning support - content development and review
    • Co-creation, co-design and co-deliver (in- curriculum design, cocreation of learning resources, assessment pieces and rubrics, review panels)
    • UX workshops / testing
    • Policy development and review
    • In curriculum support
    • Co-research
    • Decision making and implementation
    • Events and workshops

    Ready to Partner? Review our project.

    Further support: Contact the Students as Partners Team.

  • 5. Empower: Students as decision makers

    Students take the lead in initiatives that matter to them, having a say in the decision-making process. This empowerment extends to student clubs and Student Representative Councils (SRCs), where students shape and make final decisions. This approach gives students ownership and responsibility, enhancing their leadership skills and ensuring initiatives align with their passions and priorities for a more meaningful student experience.

    Example: Clubs, SRC