UCL News


Change Agents’ Network (CAN) Conference 2022 – Examining Student-Staff Partnership

7 June 2022

UCL hosted the Change Agents’ Network (CAN) Conference between Wednesday 11 and Friday 13 May, bringing together students and staff from the UK and overseas to share expertise and insights on building student-staff partnerships in Higher Education.

Photo of UCL students at the CAN conference

The Conference was organised by UCL’s Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience) team and attracted over 100 delegates and guest speakers from an array of universities, professional networks, and businesses. The Wednesday and Friday sessions were held online, with Thursday’s sessions taking place on-campus at UCL.  

The Conference began with an opening address from Derfel Owen, Director of Change and Improvement at UCL, and Sarah Knight, Head of Learning and Teaching Transformation at Jisc. This was followed by the first appearance of the ChangeMakers Student Fellows at the Conference, as Arthur Davis and Stephanie Cunningham had a keynote discussion on student partnership with Professor Jenny Marie, Head of Quality Enhancement at University of Greenwich. 

How students co-led the CAN Conference 

Students from UCL and beyond had key roles throughout the conference schedule. The ChangeMakers Student Fellows planned and co-hosted sessions, including 'How to refresh and reignite student-staff partnership schemes' and 'How can we centre wellbeing at the heart of assessment discussion and design for students and staff?'.  

As well co-hosting these sessions, the Student Fellows acted as moderators for over 20 other events at the conference, giving them a chance to interact with fellow students and staff delegates from institutions in the UK and overseas. The Student Fellows also shared the buzz of the conference through social media coverage.  

Key topics across the Conference 

The Conference focused on Student Partnership and how to empower students to co-create their education in collaboration with staff colleagues. UCL is committed to partnership, and the UCL 2034 strategy aspires for students to ‘feel that they are a key and integral part of our university community, and that their opinions and suggestions are valued and acted upon, as full partners in the future of UCL.’ 

Delegates at the CAN Conference brought along some fascinating case studies of staff-student partnership at other universities. One example came from the University of Hertfordshire’s Graduates of the Future initiative, where their students worked to co-create the six graduate attributes that programmes will seek to instil in students across the institution.  

The University of Reading’s delegates, meanwhile, presented a case study on hybrid learning which concluded that “unless students, as the end users of university products/innovations, are involved in the design and creation process, universities risk investing massive resources in innovations that students poorly adopt”. 

How you can get involved in Staff-Student Partnership  

UCL students have a range of opportunities to shape education in partnership with staff. Many of the Student Fellows had participated in ChangeMakers projects and taken on Student Quality Reviewer roles during their time at UCL, and they related how the initiative had demystified many of UCL’s internal structures and brought about significant changes in their departments.  

If you’re not sure how much time you can commit, or if you’d prefer a more flexible option for Student Partnership, you can join UCL’s Student Experience Panel. You’ll then receive a regular newsletter with details of opportunities to collaborate with UCL or share your ideas and feedback. The Panel opportunities are usually one-off feedback sessions, such as workshops or focus groups, which often include a free lunch or voucher.