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Why Students as Producers is the initiative every university needs to take up

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In today’s society, we are seeing more and more a culture of the student as a consumer: students are making the decision to put themselves into thousands of pounds of debt so expect results.

This atmosphere of “I give so I get” is creating a hostile university environment; lecturers are feeling pressured by their students, and students are feeling pressured by their financial constraints and deepening expectations.

Ultimately, we are creating an environment where academics are isolated by their anxieties; students and staff are moving away from working as a collective in preference of a philosophy of “getting my head down”.

The university experience, in my opinion, is supposed to be one of developing; individually, collectively, academically, personally, emotionally, for some even spiritually. It’s about breaking boundaries which you didn’t even realise existed. It’s about collaborating with and meeting the kinds of people you’ve only read about in books or on Twitter. It’s about sharing ideas, working out which ideas you like and which you don’t, and exploring the opportunities which stem from them. It’s about networking, philosophising, disappointment, and delight. This is where initiatives like Students as Producers come in.

Students as Producers is a student-lead, student-orientated initiative designed to allow the university experience to evolve into something it’s really supposed to be. It is designed to support both staff and students in getting involved in research, projects, technology, art, creative media; any initiative which enhances the learning, teaching, and development of those involved and contributes to improving the learning experience of the institution.

Projects can be designed and initiated by either students or staff, and then opened up to others as a collaborative academic experience. Not only does it allow students to gain practical experience of critical educational analysis, but also gives staff an opportunity to develop their research with fresh, new ideas.

The benefits of this initiative are endless. With support from the institution and the government, students and staff involved in projects can apply for funding which can be utilised for specialist materials, travel, and even professional external parties to help in the running of the programs.

Institutions such as the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Lincoln have put the Students as Producers initiative in place, alongside the University College London (UCL) who have a program called Change Makers that functions in the same regard.

The results of the program have been extremely positive; LSE note in particular a half unit taught by the International Relations Department, “Visual International Politics” which allowed the leading professors (William A. Callahan and Darren Moon) to change the assessment of the unit from examinations to collaborative documentary films. The Students as Producers funding was put towards the loan of ten DSLR cameras which helped the students to produce professional and successful work, which was all shown to over 1,000 attendees in the university gallery. To read more and watch examples of the work produced, follow this link: https://vimeo.com/lselearningtechnology

Just imagine the opportunities that could be available to students if more and more universities adopted initiatives like Students as Producers. For students of languages (particularly niche languages such as those from the African continent, South East Asia, etc) it could mean funding towards travel costs in order to carry out primary research. For students of Anthropology, it could mean opportunities for first-hand fieldwork. For students of Sciences, it could mean collaborative research between students and staff on new medicines and technology. For students of Media, it could mean gaining experience utilising specialist materials which will help in future career applications. The list goes on.

These initiatives are shining stars in the clouded sky that is the university experience, and I urge you all to get involved. Start asking your university questions; why don’t we have these programs in place? What can I do to help kick-start it? Be inquisitive, be proactive, and take the right step in improving your own university experience!




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