On 28 and 29 April 2014, NZUSA hosted a summit on student voice in the ITP sector.
The focus of the Summit was on enhancing the quality of academic programmes through the better use of Student Voice in Polytechnics:
- to connect with the best of international evidence and experience, and
- to recognise and share good practices by institutions in New Zealand
The programme included presentations and “think-pieces” by 9 institutions and organisations. They shared their practices, and difficulties, to crowd source solutions and share ideas. It built on previous work undertaken by NZUSA and welcomed representatives from Student Particiption for Quality Scotland (www.sparqs.ac.uk) who are acknowledged as world leaders in the area.
Participants came from 17 of the 18 ITPs in New Zealand and included a chief executive, four heads of academic quality, six heads of student success, well-being or experience, two heads of learning services, six student advisers whose job included support for student councils, eleven student representatives, and one manager of strategy. They were supported by experts in student engagement from sparqs, Ako Aotearoa, HeathRose Research and the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations.
The programme included the following presentations:
Case studies were presented as follows:
Otago Polytechnic Student Council – Student Voice in Key Decisions.
The small campus perspective - engaging with Youth Guarantee students
Engaging with the needs of graduates moving to employment
You Said, We Did - How we closed the feedback loop
Starting from scratch - building a Student Council
Getting a Student Council started - E-elections
Ensuring a voice for students, not just of a student
Unitec’s Solution to the Voluntary Student Membership Legislation
Responding to a diverse and disparate student population
Some of the material can be downloaded:
Outcome of the summit
We had overwhelmingly positive responses to the summit and have already secured funding and support for a follow-up event which is to take place within twelve months. The goal of that event will be to review progress towards the commitments that people made.
Between now and then the summit organisers undertook to work with and bring together those ITPs who were at a similar stage of development so that they can make progress together.
A key outcome was that each ITP left with ideas and inspiration to implement over the next 12 months, utilising the presentations and case studies to inform their own activities and priorities.
There were specific commitments, in particular around:
- including students in internal review panels,
- better feedback processes,
- student-led teaching awards,
- training for staff and student representatives to better understand their responsibilities,
- democratising the learning environment,
- identifying students as experts in their own learning, and
- conducting formal engagement around learning needs and curriculum development.
Consistent themes were:
- the relationship between associations and institutions,
- the notion of partnership,
- the importance of cultural change to embed a commitment to student voice,
- an understanding that student voice is not the same as complaint, and
- completing the loop by promoting and publicising the effectiveness of student voice.
The summit was financially supported by the Metro Group of ITPs, NZITP, Ako Aotearoa, and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations. This support means that the costs of the event itself were fully covered for participants and also meant that there were funds available to support student participants with their travel costs.
Squiz, StudentCard, Cheers, and Fuji Xerox.
Squiz’ main contribution was access to their digital discussion platform squiz-roadmap to enable a conversation to take place throughout the summit, they paid for the scoail function and also provided pads and pens. Fuji Xerox generously did all of the printing of the summit’s materials and provided bags.
- A brief History of the TWFG
- TWFG Philosophy
- The value of the TWFG and National Women’s Rights Officer (NWRO)
- Get involved
- Contact details and links
1. A brief History of the TWFG:
The TWFG is the women’s caucus of the New Zealand Union of Students Associations. We are a collective of past and present women on student’s association executives from tertiary institutions around the country who set women’s policy and run women focused campaigns and events such as Take Back the Night and Thursday in Black. We have our own operating structure and three yearly women’s only conferences where we meet, network and share information and experiences. TWFG primarily addresses sexism as it appears within the education system. However, TWFG also aims to address other inequities such as in wealth, class, ethnicity, sexuality, age and physical ability, as barriers to education.
2. Our philosophy
Our philosophy and outlook is based in an understanding that discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, age and physical ability is currently part of Aotearoa/New Zealand society, denying women equality of opportunity and an equitable share of social and economic advantages and benefits. Educational institutions have and continue to play a key role in reflecting and reinforcing such discrimination.
The TWFG understands that women, and those who identify as a woman, are affected by discrimination based on their gender. TWFG understands that society, as it is presently constructed, gives men, as a group, power over women as a group. Thus TWFG is defines sexism as male privilege that is deployed through social, economic and political institutions and norms. TWFG also recognises that women are not a homogenous group. Women of different classes, ethnicities, sexual identities, ages, levels of physical ability may have different interests, priorities and needs. TWFG is committed to acknowledging and addressing these differences in its work and in on-going consultation with other women’s groups and organisations.
3. The value of the TWFG & NWRO
The TWFG argues that sexism, as it relates to education, takes two major forms: First, many women have been either overtly or covertly denied full and equal participation in the social and economic activities that are accorded a high status within our society. Secondly, the social and economic areas of activity where women tend to predominate, either in terms of numbers or level of influence, are often undervalued. It is crucial that women be able to represent themselves rather than relying on the dominant group to look after their interests. This is why the positions of Women’s Rights officers and the TWFG itself are so important, and why it is that voting is limited to self-identified women. This prevents candidates from appealing to the dominant group – men – at the expense of the group they are to represent (unless otherwise agreed by the TWFG, say, if there is a campus which has no female representatives).
The TWFG and National Women’s Rights Officer (NWRO), who is the spokesperson for the TWFG, must come from a feminist position that recognises that the systemic oppression of women and the denigration of the non-masculine harms everyone and prevents us from evolving an egalitarian society. Affirmative action initiatives to boost the status and safeguard the gains of minorities or marginalised groups are attempts to move towards equity.
Some people will claim that the existence of the NWRO position (especially if there is no equivalent position for men) is sexist, exclusionary and unnecessary. These arguments are based on either the mistaken assumption that society treats men and women equally at this point in history, or the antifeminist assumption that the unequal treatment of men and women is natural and proper. Because equality is treated as a zero-sum game by those who stand to lose their power and privilege over marginalised people, feminist efforts are often greeted with hostility and fear. It is the TWFG and NWRO’s job to ensure that, despite such obstacles, the interests of women are considered in anything NZUSA does, and that the association strives to ensure fairness for all genders throughout the university experience.
4. Get involved
If you are interested in getting involved with the TWFG, or want to organise an event that relates to Tertiary Women, or would like help with an event you are organising, then fantastic! Get in contact with the email@example.com who can advise and help you where necessary.
Here is a list of campaign ideas and events that you could organise to raise awareness about particular issues:
(could collaborate with other groups on campus for some of your campaigns, such as UniQ)
- Thursdays in Black
- Take Back the Night
- Women’s Week
- International Women’s Day
- Love your body
- Pay equity
- Student debt
- Gendered Violence
- Discrimination and Harassment
- Reproductive rights and health – contraception, sex ed, maternity care, abortion
- Sexual health and rights – sex positivity, consent, STIs
- Welfare – DPB, TIA, sickness and unemployment benefits
- Intersections of ethnicity and gender – migrant women, privilege within feminism
- Women in academic – representation in the different departments
- Debates (you could get your campus Debating Society involved)
- Movies screening/movie marathon
- Self defence workshop
- Panel discussions (E.g. on politics, gender quotas, representation, lived experiences, academics)
- Workshops with other groups e.g. Rape Crisis, Family Planning, P3 Foundation
- Lecturers – critiques and criticisms of feminism
- Alison McCulloch from Abortion Law Reform NZ
- Wine and cheese party
- Talk/panel/workshop on feminism
- Cupcake/food orientated event
- Badge/sticker making
- Gig at local venue E.g. Music, performances, art, poetry
- Aotearoa Feminist & Queer Facebook Discussion Groups and Facebook Pages
- Aotearoa Support Centres and Organisations for Women
6. Contact details and links
If you would like any more information, or would like to discuss something pertaining to Tertiary Women, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the current NWRO, Izzy O'Neill; firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the latest details on our Thursdays in Black campaign, check out the pages below: