|Editor||P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship|
The University of New England, Australia, offers an institutional award for student achievement through extra-curricular activity which aims to provide an incentive to students to get involved in university and community life whilst at university. An underpinning principle of the award is that extra-curricular activity offers rich avenues for the development of valuable graduate attributes. One of the student training and development programs offered under the umbrella of the award is a Student Leadership Program. The program’s objectives are to develop and enhance the practical skills of leadership including appreciation of different leadership styles; the principles of strategic thinking and planning; good citizenship and the importance of taking a life-long learning approach to leadership. This case study set out to explore why students participate in the Leadership Program, what they gained from their participation and the impact of the institutional award. The students reportedly participated in the Student Leadership Program to develop themselves personally and professionally. While the availability of the institutional award was a factor, it appeared that the majority of the respondents also possessed the desire to extend and challenge themselves. The students stated that they gained professional skills such as communication, conflict resolution, time management, interpersonal skills and lifelong learning skills. They believed that certain personal qualities such as confidence, assertiveness, empathy, optimism, social responsibility, self knowledge, and improved understanding of human nature were also enhanced. Additionally, it was found that active and involved students did respond to institutional recognition of their efforts and achievements and saw the institutional award as further incentive to get involved and become active citizens in their communities.