Student Partnership (Engaging Students as Partners)

Priority 1 of the LSE 2030 Strategy commits to: 

-“work in partnership with our students to find innovative ways of learning, creating and collaborating, supporting them to better understand and shape our rapidly changing world.”   

-“support our students to innovate and create real change, within LSE and beyond.” 

Below you can read more about how we and our student partners work towards these commitments in practice.

Overview of student partnership

In Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching, Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felton define student partnership as: 

“a collaborative, reciprocal process through which all participants have the opportunity to contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualisation, decision making, implementation, investigation or analysis” (p.6-7). 

Instead of offering a prescriptive definition of partnership, Healey, Flint and Harrington consider partnerships to be based on the following values: authenticity, inclusivity, reciprocity, empowerment, trust, challenge, community & responsibility. They note that: 

“partnership within learning and teaching is understood as highly contextual and influenced by many factors, including the experiences and expertise of partners involved, the culture and history of the setting for partnership (e.g. the course, department, institution, students’ union) and the wider social and political context of higher education” (p.14).  

Student partnership is part of a continuum of student engagement that encompasses a range of different ways staff and students can work together. These forms of collaboration may be appropriate for different projects, or at different stages of a project. 

Partnerships can be formed between between staff and students, or between students and their peers. They can form part of specific projects, or become an approach to existing forms of student engagement. Common forms or locations of partnership include:

  • Co-creation of the curriculum
  • Co-creation within the curriculum
  • Educational research and evaluation
  • Disciplinary research
  • Enhancing the wider student experience.

The case for engaging students as partners

In their Systematic Literature Review of Students as Partners in Higher Education Mercer-Mapstone et al. identify that students who participated in partnership experienced many positive outcomes, including increased: 

  • Motivation for learning 
  • Confidence as a student 
  • Meta-cognitive learning and awareness 
  • Relationships with staff and their peers 
  • Sense of belonging to a university community 

It also identifies positive outcomes for staff, including: 

  • Enhanced relationships or trust 
  • Development of new or better teaching or curriculum materials 
  • Increased understanding of students’ experiences
  • New beliefs about teaching and learning that enhance existing practices
  • A positive shift in power dynamics 

The Framework for Student Engagement Through Partnership, developed by AdvanceHE, also identifies institutional benefits for engaging in partnership. These include the potential to increase students’ confidence that they are being given opportunities to provide feedback on their course and confidence that their opinions are being valued and acted upon. 

A guide to student partnership literature

Student Partnership: A Review of and Guide to the Literature offers a review of the present literature on student partnership, or engaging students as partners (SaP). It summarises the major themes within the literature, its reasons for advocating for partnership work, and case studies and examples to inform the development of best practice. It also aims to capture the lacunae, weaknesses, and challenges of both working in student partnership and in the partnership literature more broadly, so that readers can identify potential problems to troubleshoot in their own work, as well as areas to encourage further research and partnership practice. 

Forms of student partnership

The ways of engaging students as partners will vary according to role, location and context, but may include: 

  • Working with students to design and develop curricula (e.g. co-creation and co-evaluation of courses; curating reading lists)
  • Empowering students through learning and research activities 
  • Partnership approaches to assessment and feedback
  • Collaborating with students to solve problems, make decisions and deliver new initiatives
  • Meaningfully engaging with Student Academic Representatives 
  • Considering and implementing (where appropriate) the outputs of School-wide partnership initiatives: findings and recommendations from LSE Change Makers and insights from the Student Education Panel 

Cook-Sather, Bovill & Felten (2014) offer a series of practical tips and strategies for initiating partnerships that include:

  • Start small
  • Be patient
  • Make participation voluntary
  • Think carefully about which students to involve
  • Create shared aims
  • Cultivate support structures
  • Learn from mistakes

Principles of Student/Staff Partnership at LSE

During the 2022-23 Academic Year, the Eden Centre worked with students and staff accross LSE to pinpoint what student partnership means, and could mean, in our specific educaitonal context. We co-created the following set of principles of student/staff partnership at LSE. 

  • Identify an appropriate activity or area of engagement where students and staff can work collaboratively towards common goals and meaningful changes.
  • Co-create the partnership activity/engagement to identify common interests, agree intended outcomes, clarify roles and responsibilities, and understand the value to be gained for different participants.
  • Be authentic, realistic and transparent about the intended outcomes of the partnership activity/engagement, and what changes are possible within a particular context.
  • Engage in dialogue and negotiation to frame the activity/engagement as a shared endeavour, which empowers all participants.
  • Aim for inclusive partnerships that minimise barriers to participation and do not place the burden for enhancement unduly on either staff or students. This is especially important for participants with minority identities/backgrounds and/or disabilities.
  • Respect the different and often complementary skills, knowledges, and experiences contributed by staff and students.
  • Develop trust that everyone’s contributions will be considered equally, and recognised fairly.
  • Critically examine the hierarchies in operation, be cognisant of their impacts, and (where appropriate) take steps towards the re-positioning of staff and students as full members of the community.
  • Build in regular opportunities for review and reflection. Be open to making mistakes, learning from experiences, and doing things differently in the future (both during and after a partnership activity/engagement).
  • Create a culture of partnership between students and staffby applying these guiding principles to existing models of engagement, as well as designated partnership activities.

These are intended to be an adaptive and flexible set of principles that can be applied to various scenarios and evolve alongside the institution. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions to develop these principles further. Please email Lydia Halls (Student Partnership Manager) to discuss

LSE Change Makers

Change Makers is a School-wide collaborative programme between LSE and LSE Students’ Union. It gives current students the chance to make meaningful change at LSE through independent research. Change Makers identify a particular aspect of LSE to investigate. They then plan and carry out a small-scale research project (with funding and research support from LSE). At the end of the project, Change Makers communicate their findings and recommendations to senior leadership across LSE and LSESU to take forward. 

The Change Makers research gallery contains summaries of all projects and recommendations from 2022-23, organised into overarching themes. The research archive contains summaries of projects and recommendations from all previous years organised into more specific categories.

We hope the findings and recommendations will be useful to colleagues who are investigating enhancements accross varied areas of the student academic and extra-curricular experience. While some projects focus on specific departments or services, some of the findings and recommendations are universal and/or transferrable.

If you would like to discuss any of the Change Makers research and how it might be able to inform your work, please contact Please also get in touch to let us know if you've used any of the projects, findings and/or recommendations in your work!

LSE Student Education Panel

The Student Education Panel is a School-wide collaborative programme between LSE and LSE Students Union. It aims to engage students of all backgrounds in the development of education and students’ experiences at LSE, through dialogue and co-creation. Panellists meet once per term to discuss a specific topic, question or proposal and they communicate their insights to senior leadership across LSE and LSESU. This to helps to foreground diverse students’ voices in decision making. 

The Insights from the Student Education Panel webpage hosts panellist-authored overviews of they key points of their discussions. As the panel is composed of students from accross LSE, most of their reflections and suggestions can be drawn upon to inform practice in varied services and departments.

If you would like to discuss any of the Student Education Panel discussions and how they might be able to inform your work, please contact Please also get in touch to let us know if you've used any of the insights in your work!

Research Internships

Working with a student as a research intern or assistant may seem hierarchical but can be planned, and perceived by students, as a two-way exchange. Interns can develop knowledge and skills that they value (including familiarity with archives, software, or methodological tools). Students also appreciate furthering the progress of a ‘real world’ research project. Your department or centre may run a regular internship scheme, and funding is also available for more ad hoc opportunities. 


We are currently planning events for the 2023/24 academic year. Please check back at the start of winter term for further details.

Support from Eden



The Eden Catalyst Fund supports initiatives which contribute to the development and delivery of education enhancement activity, and is particularly interested in applications relating to “Student voices, partnership and academic support” (amongst other themes). You can apply for funding up to £10,000. 

Further information

Information for students

This is primarily a staff-facing webpage. For information about taking part in either of LSE’s School-wide partnership opportunities as a student, please visit: 

Or to discover other ways of making positive change at LSE visit Part of LSE: Student Voice or LSESU: Student Voice