King's College London, United Kingdom
This paper focuses on the multiple benefits and challenges of student-staff partnership in higher education research that aims at developing inclusive, global learning environments to culturally diverse student cohorts. It discusses how student engagement in research as co-inquirers contributes to developing student voice which leads to student agency on their own learning (Seale, 2010). The paper draws on a research project jointly funded by the Higher Education Academy UK and UK Council for International Students Affairs which explored the university student experience across three different geo-political contexts using students studying at an English university as co-inquirers. The project sample included students at different stages of their university experience (undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral) studying across a range of disciplines in India, Ireland and England. The student participants represented fifteen different cultures and a variety of languages as their mother tongue including different dialects of English language. Within a participatory research framework, qualitative interview data were collected by the student co-inquirers using SKYPE technology. The student co-inquirers were equal partners of all aspects of the research project except for the initial stages of designing and submitting the research proposal. It examines how student-staff partnership created a particular space for student voice encouraging them to engage in decision-making, sharing experiences and responsibilities with students across diverse contexts (Bain, 2010; Drake, 2010).The authors conclude that the democratic, participatory research framework offered opportunities to develop students' intercultural awareness, leadership skills and interpersonal skills.