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Empowering Student Partners: Working with our Library's Student Team

20 Jul 2023

How our Library's student partners have worked alongside staff to benefit the entire student community

Student partners Tabita-Gabriela Juravle (left) and Iqra Malik (right)

Our university thrives on the collaboration between university colleagues and student partners. It’s an approach which ensures co-creation on all projects which aim to improve teaching and learning, or the student experience. 

This was a key message of our recent Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) submission, as we recognised the commitment students make to the development of the University strategy and community. 

A wide range of roles are offered to students, not only giving student interns the chance to work on paid projects but offering them another way for their voices to be heard. 

Tabita and Iqra

Our award-winning University Library has been at the forefront of this collaborative effort. With a dedicated 21-strong Student Team sitting at the heart of all their teaching and learning activities, the team reflects the diversity of Manchester’s student body; with students from all Faculties, year groups and backgrounds. 

The Library Student Team's increased involvement has positively benefited the entire student community. Through their involvement in workshops, observation, feedback provision, material development, and piloting, these student partners have proven their dedication to enhancing the educational experience for their peers.  

Tabita-Gabriela Juravle (pictured above, left) and Iqra Malik (pictured above, right) are two members of the Library’s Student Team and two of the team’s Area Leads. Tabita is area lead for the team’s Outreach Programme, and Iqra is lead for University Initiatives and Special Projects. Both have worked alongside university staff to innovate the delivery of teaching and learning at the Library, shaping our library materials and resource, and representing student voice on campus and beyond. 

“My role on the team has largely been driven through working alongside University staff” Iqra says. “I have been given the opportunity to attend conferences, most of which have focused on the student experience - from travelling to RAISE in Lincoln and AdvanceHE in Keele. Not only did I attend, but I was involved in the creation and delivery of workshops.” 

A significant shift has taken place within the Library Student Team, granting them the opportunity to actively contribute to the development and delivery of workshops. Previously more focused on supporting sessions, the Student Team now regularly co-deliver teaching and lead on peer support initiatives such as the cost of living focused "snack and chat"  

Tabita details similar experiences in her role. “Once I became an Area Lead for the Outreach Programme, I facilitated the partnership between the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and the Library by assisting with the Islamophobia Awareness event and the Somos Mujeres exhibition. I also led two rounds of book reviews for LGBTQ+ History Month and International Women's Day. I nurtured these connections with the RACE Centre by initiating the Romani Teaching Resource Project and proposing another round of book reviews, surfacing the voices of marginalised social categories.” 

This first-hand experience has allowed them to provide insightful feedback at the end of each workshop, focusing on session effectiveness and potential improvements in the training materials and resources used.  

As a result, these materials and resources better cater to the needs of the student community, ensuring more engaging and relevant learning experiences. 

Student Voice 

“Working within the Library Student Team, we can ensure that the student voice is always heard” Iqra says. 

“On the Student Team, we have created an open environment where students can share ideas and express themselves, where staff that consistently collaborate with us are often able to produce content that not only includes students, but appeals to us, through delving into our rich experiences.” 

Tabita explains that through the projects she has worked on, she connected with academics such as linguist Yaron Matras, and other teams within the Library she would not usually have the opportunity to work with. “The only reason why other Student Team members and I were able to create all these connections is because our positions within the Teaching, Learning and Student team were recognised as equally important as the rest of the staff. 

“Our partnership with staff is seeking to bridge the gap between the student body and the university through constant conversations and collaborations.” 

What’s next?  

As the Library Student Team continues to expand its influence, the collaboration between students and faculty is essential for creating an inclusive, supportive, and effective learning environment for all.  

“Since its launch in 2013, the Library Student Team has been at the heart of our extensive efforts to embed the student voice and perspectives in our teaching and learning activities” says Jennie Blake, Head of Teaching and Learning Development at the Library. “They truly collaborate with other Library staff and co-create our materials, sessions and other resources.  

“The impact of their work extends across the Library, pushing our teaching to be more inclusive, accessible and culturally aware, and it reaches out into the sector, where their voice is regularly heard at events and in publications, highlighting a Manchester vision of student engagement.”  

More information