Co-Creating a Sustainable Student-University Relationship for Social Impact

Mr Domenic Svejkar1, Kate Elton1, Bridget Malcolm1, Catharine Pruscino1, Mariana Zafeirakopoulos1

1Design Innovation Research Centre, Ultimo, Australia


The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Design Innovation Research Centre (DIRC) has been undertaking a body of work to qualitatively understand and utilise the diverse range of UTS student perspectives on the complex issue of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. This work was initiated by a UTS Senior Working Group to amplify the ‘student voice’ to better inform its decision making, as part of its response to the quantitative survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission as part of the Respect. Now. Always. (RNA) campaign.

DIRC used a participatory design research approach, which “attempts to actively involve the people who are being served…in the process to help ensure that the designed products/service meets their needs” (Sanders & Stappers, 2012). This approach not only actively opened and helped evolve the conversation on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at UTS, but importantly established a new way of co-creative engagement between students and university staff.

This workshop will use participatory design research methods to explore how universities can continue to develop and sustain effective student and community engagement to influence decision making. It will be highly interactive, involving students from UTS and other partner universities working with conference attendees from universities around Australia to create a shared understanding of the benefits of a new process of engagement, as well as co-creating solutions to potentially implement in their own university contexts. Participatory design methods include collaborative co-design, design games, collaborative prototype techniques and theatre-based scenario techniques.

Workshop Outline:

  • Short introduction through case study of the UTS RNA student voice project
  • Focal Question: What does an effective student-university engagement look like?
    • Exploration of current state of university engagement with students
    • Exploration of ideal future state university engagement with students
    • Co-creation of tangible approaches to apply in participants own contexts
  • Reflection on co-design process

Workshop Outcomes:

  • Demonstration of the value of using participatory co-design approach to develop services/partnerships
  • Development of skills in communication/collaboration between students and decision makers
  • Identification of gaps in university approaches to equal student engagement
  • Development of new concepts to take away and apply in participants own contexts


Domenic Svejkar is a Strategic Designer working at the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre with a multidisciplinary background across Service Design, Engineering, and Creative/Entertainment Industries. He has a particular interest in social impact design, as well as sculptural installation work, music, and audiovisual projection, having exhibited in events such as Vivid Sydney and Sculpture by the Sea Bondi.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education. We are focused on: The quality of the student experience Supporting and empowering students to achieve their educational and life goals Enhancing student wellbeing and development Improving student success and persistence Providing outreach to students at-risk Raising institutional student retention rates For more information, please visit the ANZSSA website at

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria