Working with students as partners

By Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education), Imperial College Union

Imperial College London often talks of working with ‘students as partners’, but until I started my role as Deputy President (Education) I had no appreciation for just how committed the College were to achieving this aim. My role allows me to sit on a number of committees, giving me the chance to directly represent the student voice at the highest levels of the College on all matters, no matter how big or small. The curriculum review is one such matter, and it is certainly one of the bigger ones!

Students have long expressed that they feel overburdened by a curriculum that is too excessive, with a heavy focus on factual recall rather than deeper, more conceptual understanding. The curriculum reviews offers the perfect opportunity for departments to address these concerns. Involving students in this process is essential, as they are able to offer a unique and valuable perspective.

My experience of the curriculum review so far is similar to that of George Orwell’s words in Animal Farm. Just as “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” I have seen that “all departments make efforts to involve students, but some departments involve students more than others.”

This framework, co-written by departmental and faculty level Academic Representatives, aims to provide guidance to departments on how to involve students in the curriculum review process. It is our hope that staff responsible for curriculum review will engage with this document, and apply its principles to their own practise.

Staff should not overlook the value that students can bring to the curriculum review process, and strive to work with them as partners. By using the framework for guidance, staff will be able to effectively tap in to the unique and valuable resource that is their students. In working together with one another, together staff and students can ensure that teaching at Imperial is the best it can possibly be.

Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education)

New resources for curriculum review teams

Our colleagues in the Educational Development Unit have helped to develop a list of the key topics and questions to consider as part of curriculum review, in order to help guide your discussions. You will find these on the strategy webpages (internal only).

If you’ve not already done so, please see our Resources page for a range of useful material; this will be updated on a regular basis.