Student Participation in University Governance

Student involvement in university committees is one of the most essential ways that schools engage with students, listen to them, and involve them in their internal decision-making processes. According to recent studies, student participation in decision-making at the institutional level is practically ubiquitous, however, representation at lower organizational levels and across different issue-based governance domains varies significantly between and within institutions. I will try to give some good reasons in support of the representation of students in university decision-making.


Violent student protests occurred in London in November 2010 in response to the newly elected government's proposal of steep tuition fee increases. This is a recent illustration of the enormous disruptive power of students as collective political actors at the national level. On the potential and actual experience of student power at the university level, the politically plausible case for include students in the formal decision-making processes of institutions is established. Student demonstrations are more prevalent when institutional routes of engagement and consultation with students are absent, according to several researches from the early years of university democracy. These and other recent studies from other contexts recommend the creation of institutional structures for communicating and bargaining with student leaders as an appropriate response by university officials to restrict disruptive student political activism on campus. From this perspective, student representation in university decision-making is viewed as a matter of pragmatics, promising a calmer and more orderly academic environment. The argument has some legs left. Participation of students in decision-making in institutions helps to foster a culture of transparency and trust, which contributes to a positive organizational climate.


According to the politically realistic case for student involvement in university decision-making, students are internal stakeholders or a politically relevant constituency of the institution. Stakeholder governance's democratic credentials may be linked back to a critique of the unilateral "monolithic style of governance," in which a single group dominates decision-making; historically, this dominating group has been the professoriate. The goal is to diffuse authority and replace "antiquated formal hierarchies" by viewing the university as a collection of competing internal stakeholders who all need to be heard and accommodated.


The basis for student representation in university decision-making has recently been addressed in light of students' roles as clients, users, and consumers of higher education, in contrast to the political justification for university democracy. In practice, this means that there will be a wide range of student and university viewpoints. Students as clients, like the ideas of students as proletarians and knowledge workers with the potential to be "revolutionary agents," emphasize the political economics inherent in the student–university relationship. Students are increasingly perceived as clients or consumers of the university's educational products and services, and the university is viewed as a service provider with whom they have a contractual relationship. The "student as consumer" metaphor has been the dominant method of interpreting the relationship between the university and students, and it has been heavily challenged for a variety of reasons.


According to the consumerist case, decisions made on campus affect students as clients or consumers of university-provided products and services. They should have a say in these decisions as a result. Senior university officials have solid reasons to listen to and respond to student voices: problems that affect students can be addressed sooner, and opportunities to improve the student experience can be identified through student representation and other sorts of student participation.


The communitarian worldview, which views the university as a community, is another reason for student representation in university decision-making. The function and status of students as members of a collectivity engaged in the educational process underpins the communitarian claim to student involvement in university decision-making. The university is a community of people united by shared values, common and communal goals, reciprocal commitments, and a flow of sentiment that makes community preservation a desire rather than a matter of prudence or duty. More general democratic standards may support this university's communitarian perspective.


In democracies, higher education is not limited to training students for certain job market responsibilities. Furthermore, higher education is aimed to prepare students for democratic citizenship by providing them with general skills, opportunities for personal growth and development, and the ability to think critically and deliberatively. Public colleges can be seen as "sites of democratic citizenship" in this light, with student representation functioning as a means of instilling democratic values and practicing democracy. As a result, student participation in decision-making can aid citizenship education in two ways: first, students must learn how democracy works by participating in student groups and university decision-making bodies, as well as having a mental understanding of the concept. Second, children must learn about democracy by seeing how participation helps them to influence events and their own living conditions.


As a result, student representation is justified from a broader and longer-term perspective, in which students are seen as members of the greater political community in which the university is rooted. This needs university governance to be congruent in certain fundamental respects with how the greater political community is handled. In democracies, students are thus viewed as citizens, and the university as a democratic vehicle and therefore, they must have a say in the decision-making process of universities.

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