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Centering Students
in Higher Education Reform

The Why and How of Student Engagement

Terra Thorne | Mina Dadgar

Reforms intended to benefit students often fail to center students in the change process. In Spring 2023, Education Equity Solutions interviewed 42 student leaders and staff across 14  organizations to learn about the impact of student engagement in their change work and the necessary conditions for authentically and effectively engaging students.

We identified three main principles of authentic student engagement:

  1. Purposeful inclusion of students from systematically excluded communities, including identifying and removing barriers to participation for students from those communities.

  2. Shared power with students, coupled with support and training, to provide students agency to identify what needs to change alongside structured guidance on how to make change.

  3. Community and a culture of care, where students’ well-being and long-term development is given equal value to the impact of their work.

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