Reflecting on 2023’s Student Champion Development Day

Student Champion Development Day

At the beginning of November, we brought together our Equate Student Network to connect and plan events for the year ahead together. This is an important opportunity for our student champions from different universities to meet and share their experiences and ideas with one another.

Through group discussions, teambuilding exercises, event planning sessions, and brainstorming ideas for what the students would like to see from the upcoming Equate student conference, there was many opportunities for the students to participate and have their voices heard by their peers.

The students said they liked ‘the openness of discussion’, having an ‘opportunity to make connections’, and ‘meeting new people and having a safe space to share our opinions’.

The feedback shows how useful the students found this Equate Development Day – with 100% of attendees beginning to organise at least one event to support women and non-binary STEM students at their institution and having identified their next steps in organising their first event.

Ideas for events that the students will organise as Equate Student Champions this year are varied – and all very exciting!

In Glasgow, students from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow decided they would like to hold an event open to all women and non-binary STEM students within the city of Glasgow. The students identified that often events for STEM students can be intimidating because they expect lots of networking from attendees. For the first event for Glasgow, then, the students decided that they would hold a coffee, cake, and quiz evening aimed at women and non-binary students who might often feel nervous about attending STEM careers events. They are hoping this event can welcome women and non-binary STEM students from partners of the Equate Student Network, City of Glasgow College, and Glasgow Clyde College too.

Other events that were discussed included an Edinburgh-wide Hackathon – co-organised by Edinburgh University, Edinburgh Napier University, and Heriot-Watt University students – and panel discussions of women and non-binary professionals discussing their career journeys.

A key part of the day was for the students to connect with each other and start to develop informal peer support networks within the Student Network. This was very successful, evidenced by the fact that, in their feedback, all attendees also said they had developed new connections with others in the Equate Student Network.

“I have really enjoyed my day. It made me feel less alone. Most of my friends don’t work in STEM, so it was great to meet people who looked like me and had similar experiences.” (Anonymous Student Attendee)

We gathered information from the Student Champions about what support they would like from Equate Scotland. The most common things that the students identified they would like support with were public speaking, advertisement of events, and how to contact industry professionals. Our Training and Engagement Coordinator Molly who facilitates the Equate Student Network will be taking these ideas forward.

Another thing we wanted to find out from the Student Champions was about what they wanted to see at the Equate Student Conference next year. From these discussions, we are really excited that our next student conference will be on the 21st of February at Heriot-Watt University and the theme will be “Know Your Worth”.

Student champion development Day 2023