From spark to fire : fostering student citizenship for underrepresented groups

Gad, Samar and Lees, Becky (2023) From spark to fire : fostering student citizenship for underrepresented groups. In: Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Conference 2023; 22-23 May 2023, Newport, U.K.. (Unpublished)


This presentation is a toolkit for unlocking the potential of underrepresented student groups and promoting student citizenship. The lead presenter is the program leader for BSc (HONS) Accounting and Finance. We will highlight the key actions adopted in the Program Enhancement Plan in 2022/23 and provide evidence of impact on student experience to date. This aligns well with the selected conference theme, as the program has always been ethnically diverse, with about 85% of students classified as BME and 15% as White. Additionally, over half of our students are first-generation university attendees. Our mission is to enable students by offering exposure, learning, and social opportunities, which will give them a head start in determining their career trajectory and maximizing their social capital. We will critically reflect on key metrics for sector/programme student representation and progression, and link this to the reasons why student citizenship for underrepresented groups is important. We will discuss the key actions the course team followed and showcase the impact of each action taken to promote student citizenship: 1- Create informal opportunities for students to share feedback. 2- Integrate civic engagement opportunities and leadership development into the learning experience. This allows students to gain a sense of agency and empowerment, learn how to advocate for themselves and their communities, and develop the skills necessary to become leaders in their fields and communities. 3- Integrate career development opportunities into the taught material and assessments, and connect students with industry practitioners. This helps students develop a range of skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking, that are highly valued by employers and can improve their career prospects. 4- Recognise that conversations about mental health are an untouched territory for many students. 5- Help ensure that the perspectives, experiences, and voices of these students are represented in the decisions that affect their communities. 6- Address social issues such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination. These students are often disproportionately affected by these issues, and by empowering them to become active citizens, they can contribute to finding solutions to these challenges. Outcomes: 1. Students participated in international simulation competitions (such as AmplifyMe x Morgan Stanley). This connects students with recruiters, practitioners, and fellow students from other universities. They also receive training and development in addition to practical experience. This demonstrates to recruiters that our students are eager and go the extra mile to gain skills and stand out. 2. We have a Level 5 student who took on the role of "inclusive curriculum consultant." She advises course directors on how to represent the student body in curriculum design and resource lists. 3. Invited guest speakers from prestigious institutions such as the Bank of England to join students in timetabled classes. 4. Ad-hoc, informal catch-ups with course reps and other students. 5. Students acting as academic mentors who support other students in highly technical modules. 6. Offered social gatherings to bond and network with staff and other students across all levels. These enable students to propose new ideas, share thoughts or worries. 7. Business visits and themed field trips (such as the City of Finance and Sustainability) with visits to places like Bloomberg Space and Sky Garden. 8. Students took in global development programs and shared their perspectives with faculty members from different schools in the festival of learning. We have learned that students are eager, feel heard and want more. These defined actions are scalable across courses. We will continue to develop mutually beneficial relationships with industry practitioners. Also, student’s virtual presence on LinkedIn is emerging, and they are becoming more confident when showcasing their achievements. Our next step is to work on community outreach and inspire students to become agents of change. We believe that our accounting and finance students can play a role in helping younger generations learn simple budgeting, saving, and investing skills. Finally, it is important to develop a capstone project to allow students to capture and reflect on their achievements and gained skills.

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