Steps to Partnership: Developing, supporting, and embedding a new understanding for student engagement in Irish higher education.


  • Oisín Hassan National Student Engagement Programme
  • Stephen Foley
  • Jeffrey Cox
  • Diana Young
  • Caitríona McGrattan
  • Ruth Ní Bheoláin


This reflective article outlines the development of Steps to Partnership (NStEP, 2021a), a new national framework for Irish higher education to support authentic student engagement in decision-making across four key domains – governance and management, teaching and learning, quality assurance and enhancement, and student representation and organisation. Steps to Partnership represents a reimagining of an earlier ‘conceptual framework’ for student engagement in decision-making published by Ireland’s Higher Education Authority in 2016. It reflects the evolution of understanding, policy, and practice at the national and institutional levels, as well as increasing emphasis on embedding meaningful student voice practices within decision-making at all levels. The co-authors reflect on the development of the new framework, particularly on efforts to co-create national understandings, as well as outlining some of the ways in which the newly published framework has begun to inform current and future endeavours to strengthen student engagement in decision-making.