The Importance of Staff-Student Partnerships: TILT – A Co-Creation Funding Scheme
Postgraduate MEd Psychology
University of Manchester
In February 2022, I began working with the Academic Standards and Quality Team at Nottingham Trent University on a project called the TILT Funding Scheme, which aims to improve the student learning experience and enhance student engagement. TILT is an acronym for the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching and, following its successful piloting, the funding scheme allows all students from all disciplines to submit an application that is focused on making positive changes either at a school- or university-wide level. Applications could concentrate on tackling sustainability, mental wellbeing, making improvements to campus lighting, or other pertinent issues across the field of Higher Education. Successful applicants are then granted a financial sum to implement this idea collaboratively with a member of staff.
Before the funding scheme was deployed, a co-creation workshop took place where staff and students met to discuss the most effective ways to pilot the project. Students, including myself, were set a pre-workshop task to analyse some documentation that outlined a proposed application process and a provisional monetary value to award successful applicants.
The workshop itself was highly interactive and consisted of staff rotating around tables of grouped students to consider the feasibility of the project, what would constitute a successful application, and to map out selection criteria. A British Sign Language interpreter was also present at the workshop, capturing the team’s mission to receive input from students with additional requirements.
Following the resounding success of the workshop, students filled out an anonymous feedback form to reflect on the process and were rewarded with a £20 voucher plus money uploaded to their university smartcards for use in campus outlets.
After collating feedback from the workshop, the funding scheme entered the piloting phase, where it was rolled out to students. I was fortunate enough to sit alongside staff on the panel to decide the winning applicants based on a set of stipulated criteria. Using a scoring system, I made an individual assessment of the applicants’ pitches, then met with staff to co-operatively agree on the winners.
I went on to review terms of reference for the TILT group by reviewing the purpose statement, proposed output, eligibility and aims, all from a student perspective. I was particularly keen to ensure the language used was student-friendly, accessible, comprehensible and avoided any unnecessary jargon.
As the official launching of the scheme comes ever closer, I am thankful to write that I will be presenting at the RAISE Conference 2022 at the University of Lincoln to share the funding scheme with a wider audience.
The funding scheme is entirely design-led and aligns with the ‘University Reimagined’ principles that are as follows: creating opportunity, valuing ideas, enriching society, embracing sustainability, connecting globally, and empowering people. By encouraging the pursuit of new and innovative avenues, the scheme advocates the valuing of ideas and, by championing small enterprises, TILT is demonstrating its commitment to enriching society.
The funding scheme endeavours to show that learning can take place outside of the university classroom, as well as within it, and is therefore coalescing academic and personal experiences. There is much to offer applicants, such as gaining employability skills, verbal and written communication, collaboration, project management and creativity, although this is not exhaustive. Not only is the funding scheme an exciting and enriching opportunity but also very flexible around studies.
The TILT funding scheme came alive following the Covid-19 global pandemic and, after a drop in student engagement, the project was piloted at an ideal time. I feel very privileged to have been involved in the piloting of the funding scheme and I see much potential for the launch phase in the realm of mentoring students. I hope to see co-creation work become more transparent across universities; the TILT funding scheme is just one way of making this a reality.