April 11, 2011
Northwest student employment program enjoys international praise
Listen to audio of Birmingham City University and Northwest representatives discussing their collaboration on student employment:
The Birmingham City University representatives - who consisted of Professor Stuart Brand, director of learning and teaching at the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Luke Millard, head of learning partnerships and the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; and Paul Chapman, membership engagement manager at the Birmingham City Students' Union - spent Thursday and Friday meeting with Northwest staff, faculty and student employees for a series of panel discussions.
Both sides agree the collaboration has been a good one since their first meeting last year and the two universities are looking forward to continuing to learn from one another.
"What stands out to us most is everywhere you go (at Northwest), you meet students who feel part of the place, the University, its services, what happens here," Brand said. "We've met people (Friday), both college students and recent graduates, who have told us that this University is not just a place you come to study, it's a place that you feel part of. We aspire to that. If we could achieve that level of engagement with people in our own institution we would be a better place."
For the Northwest community, the meetings were a chance to reflect on the success and the needs of Northwest's student employment program.
"This opportunity to have Birmingham City University here has definitely been an honor and a privilege," said Paula McLain, coordinator of student employment. "Not only do they get to take information, but we also benefit as well in the fact that we get an opportunity to stop and reflect what it is we do day to day, which makes us realize the things that we're definitely doing right and perhaps the things we need to improve upon."
In November 2009, Birmingham City University, an institution of about 24,000 students spread across eight diverse campuses, and Birmingham City Students' Union launched the Student Academic Partners (SAP) scheme. The SAP scheme aims to integrate students into the teaching and pedagogic research communities of faculty as a way to develop collaboration between students and staff, generating a sense of ownership and pride in the institution and its programs.
Fresh off the launch of that program, Brand, Millard and Chapman first visited Northwest in January 2010 in hopes of gaining insight about Northwest's student employment program and observe student workers firsthand. Of the three programs Birmingham City benchmarked, Northwest's is the most compelling, Brand said.
"We had lots of stimulus from those discussions about what a great sense of community you have here, the way in which students as employees is a model for this university," Brand said. "We decided to seek to replicate that. We started and we've made some progress. We then come back here and we get even more stimulus because we have a warm reaction, and we meet other people who tell us yet more things. And so what we have is reinforced enthusiasm, more new ideas and a real sense of joint purpose."
Three Northwest students and Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness Mary Throener also visited the United Kingdom in July 2010 to collaborate with representatives from Birmingham City and Copenhagen Business School about the benefits of student engagement and integration into the University tapestry.
Last week, the Birmingham and Northwest groups focused their discussions on strategies for engaging staff in student employment, the value of student employment to the institution, how the program is organized and how it is evaluated.
Brand, Millard and Chapman concluded their visit by giving a presentation of their institution's award-winning SAP Scheme Friday afternoon.
At Northwest, about 950 students are employed in nearly every area of the campus, including the University farm, custodial services, academic departments, the University Police Department, radio and television, environmental services, Residential Life and student service departments. They work in roles such as farm assistants, custodians, lab assistants, tutors, dispatchers, on-air announcers, desk assistants, ambassadors, web developers and office assistants.
Northwest's student employment program allows students to earn money while they explore and affirm career choices and gain critical skills that improve their marketability for professional employment.
For more information about Northwest's student employment program, go to: http://www.nwmissouri.edu/hr/student/index.htm.
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Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
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