News Article

Phil's speech at the PIL Conference

On 23 Jan 2020 our Union President Philip Kloppenborg gave the opening speech at the Partners in Learning conference at Canterbury Christ Church University.

The speech was centred around student staff collaboration, ensuring that students are seen as partners (equals) in their own learning.

Hello everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Phil and I am the Union President at the Students’ Union.

I get asked a lot… well what does that actually mean? And you know what? After 18 months of being in the role I still don’t really know but I get to do speeches, so that’s fun. However, I will tell you what it allows me to do – collaborate….

Collaboration is key

Work with students, work with staff, work with my fellow presidents at the Students’ Union and nationally, work with NUS, work with basically whoever is willing to work with me.

Everything we do at the students’ union revolves around collaboration, with our core aim to work alongside students. And I truly believe that collaboration, in some form, should be, and in some way usually is, at the heart of everything we do in our lives, especially when it comes to our education. Together we can achieve greater things. 

Now collaboration isn’t always easy, particularly with students. I mean if it was I would probably be out of a job.

But is collaboration meant to be easy? Is anything worth doing ever easy? Should we as a University settle for what’s easy? Or should we be challenging ourselves? Should we be developing our minds? Should we be pushing each other to reach new heights and achieve things we never thought possible?

For me… that’s a university, a flexible, adaptable, entity that is moulded by those who are currently within it …students and staff.

Students are the greatest resource

Students are the greatest resource that a university has to offer.  However as we all know, students needs are changing. Students are expecting more. Students deserve more and students want to have more of an influence on their education.

Whether this is due to the heightened expectations that have come through the raising of fees or purely a University cultural shift , it doesn’t change the current reality. So how do you allow students to have a greater influence and insight in their own experience? I guess that’s the question we are all exploring today.

Collaboration is, of course, a two-way road, it would not exist unless it was highly valued. The relationships between staff and students, at Christ Church, create a culture of collaboration that should be instilled in everything. It’s imperative that this continues but also that staff get the credit for ensuring students have more than just a voice about their education.

There are many aspects to a university experience but I believe there is no aspect more important than staff ethos and attitude in making student’s experience.

Students. Take control and ownership of your time at CCCU

Now I do have to end my speech talking directly to all the students in the room. Our years at University are probably the biggest learning curve we will face in our academic lives. It is therefore vital that we take control and ownership of that. Taking pride in our education, being proud of our academic journey, becoming who we want to be.

Phil Kloppenborg - Union President 2018-20

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