Engaging Students as Partners in Global Learning


The Fellowship, ‘Engaging students as partners in global learning’ will support staff and students learning together in, and for the interconnected world of the 21st century.

In the interconnected, interdependent world of the 21st century, employability and good citizenship depend on the development of international capabilities; that is, the ‘knowledge, skills and attributes that enable people to live, work and learn across intercultural and international contexts’ (Bolstad, Hipkins & Stevens, 2014).  For all graduates, whether they aim to live and work in an increasingly pluralist Australia, or abroad, development of these capabilities is vital.

‘Global learning’ is fostered through ‘internationalisation of the curriculum’; that is, the incorporation of an international and intercultural dimension into the content of the curriculum as well as the teaching and learning processes and support services of a program of study. An internationalised curriculum will engage students with internationally informed research and cultural and linguistic diversity. It will purposefully develop their international and intercultural perspectives as global professionals and citizens. (Leask, 2009, p. 209).


  • Bolstad, R., Hipkins, R., Stevens, L. (2014). Measuring New Zealand students’ international capabilities: An exploratory study. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Retrieved from https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/international/144533
  • Leask, B., 2009. Using Formal and Informal Curricula to Improve Interactions Between Home and International Students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), pp.205-221.

‘Students as partners’ (SaP) is a particular approach to student engagement. It means involving students as genuine contributors to all aspects of university life, from co-designing curricula to student-led peer mentoring programs, for example. It calls for a shift from merely ‘listening’ to the student voice to engaging with them in decision-making processes’ as they become ‘evidence-based change agents’ (Healey et al, 2014, p.46).

The concept of ‘listening to the student voice – implicitly if not deliberatively – supports the perspective of student as ‘consumer’, whereas students as change agent explicitly supports a view of the students as ’active collaborator’ and ‘co-producer’, with the potential for transformation (Dunne & Zandstra, 2011, p.4).

‘Students as Partners’ projects have already demonstrated benefits for students and academics, including enhanced learning and employability outcomes and reinvigorated teaching practices (Cook-Sather, Bovill & Felton, 2014).


  • Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C. & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in teaching and learning: A guide for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Dunne, E. & Zandstra, R. (2011). Students as change agents – new ways of engaging with learning and teaching in higher education. London: Higher Education Academy.
  • Healey, M., Flint, A., Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/engagement-through-partnership-students-partners-learning-and-teaching-higher-education

Internationalisation of the curriculum (IoC) is widely regarded as the means by which universities develop students’ international capabilities. IoC is prioritised in the Australian Government’s National Strategy for International Education and is widely supported by university policies in Australia and elsewhere, yet little attention has been given to students’ experiences of, and outcomes from IoC.

An internationalised curriculum, as it is understood, intended and enacted by academics can be understood and valued very differently by students. Many students fail to recognize and engage in opportunities for global learning within the formal curriculum, while others are disappointed with its narrow interpretations in their courses. International students in particular report dissatisfaction with opportunities to interact meaningfully with local students, and initial difficulties in making the transition to studying in a foreign country.

‘Engaging students as partners in global learning’ is a fresh approach to the challenges and opportunities of learning in, and for a globalising world. It will seek to do more than understand why, and how students engage with the challenges and opportunities of internationalisation. It will engage students and academics as ’active collaborators’ and ‘co-producers’ (Dunne & Zandstra, 2011, p.4) of internationalised curricula. Beyond ‘listening’ to the student voice, the Fellowship activities will ‘engage … students in decision-making processes [as] evidence-based change agents’ (Healey et al, 2014, p.46).