Deepening partnership values to survive and thrive in the pandemic




In this paper we, a social work lecturer and undergraduate student, draw on The Higher Education Academy’s (2015) partnership values to reflect on how the coronavirus pandemic impacted on our student-staff partnership.  The deepening sense of responsibility, plurality, reciprocity, inclusivity, honesty, trust courage, authenticity and empowerment enabled us to survive and thrive during a time of change and uncertainty.  Focussing on the dissemination strand of our partnership work, we consider the threats imposed, and opportunities afforded to us, by university closure, lockdown, and social distancing measures.  Our intentions to co-present our staff-student partnership work within the university were put on hold.  However, as external events moved to online platforms, and our confidence and abilities grew, these became more accessible, taking us in directions we would not have considered otherwise.  Whilst we recognise the challenges to some aspects of our work, we also acknowledge that the pandemic disrupted the traditional institutional hierarchies and boundaries that create distance between students and staff.  This enabled more flexible ways of working to emerge, enhanced through technological advances and greater use of liminal spaces.  We believe a continuation of these working practices has the potential to increase student engagement and widen participation in future, as well as strengthening the values on which student-staff partnerships depend.


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Author Biographies

Emma Reith-Hall, Demontford University

Emma Reith-Hall was a social worker lecturer at Nottingham Trent University at the time of writing.  She is passionate about strengths-based approaches, stakeholder collaboration, partnership working and co-production.  Emma enjoys utilising Students-as-Partners approaches within teaching, learning, assessment, evaluation and research.  Emma was also a PhD student at the University of Birmingham undertaking pedagogic research.

Fee Steane, Nottingham Trent University

Fiona Steane is a newly qualified social worker who has recently graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA honours degree in Social Work.   Fiona was a student ambassador, peer mentor and involved in various Students-as-Partners projects.  She is passionate about supporting others in social work education and practice.


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How to Cite

Reith-Hall, E., & Steane, F. (2023). Deepening partnership values to survive and thrive in the pandemic. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(1), 100–112. Retrieved from