Inspire - a Teaching Fellows' newsletter

A quarterly publication on the contemporary issues influencing teaching and learning.

Reflection on inclusivity and becoming a Student Learning Assistant

By Dhana Letchmanan, Senior Learning Assistant

As an international student, I initially found it difficult to adapt to the UK education system and programme expectations. The intensive study methods and critical discussions at seminars were new to me. I come from a culture where students are not allowed to speak in the class or even debate about certain topics with their lecturers. However, in the UK HE students are encouraged to discuss the seminar topic and argue/debate the critical issues to widen their understanding or knowledge.

I struggled with my learning and although I tried to reach out to my peers for help, they were more willing to assist with the social aspects and less supportive in an academic context.  I understood that to become a successful student, I had to make a change in how I approached my study and engaged with peers. This experience made me determined to reach out to students when I explored the SLA scheme.


The SLA role transformed my student journey into a positive direction and helped me climb the success ladder. I am happy that I am involved in providing support, even though, I did not receive as much academic support as I wanted when I first started at Middlesex. I am now able to share my experiences and encourage and inform students to be more involved in the university. However, I know that some restrictions given to international students may discourage them from applying for roles. Last year, I had to give up my course ambassador role as I was not allowed to take on multiple roles as an international student due to the university policy at that time. It is a shame that such policies do not allow some students to feel comfortable as part of the university community.

I am now a Senior SLA and I am grateful for the opportunities to become a student leader, partner with staff, and coach and mentor other students. Essentially, all three journeys as a student, SLA and Senior SLA have played a major role in defining me as a student and member of Middlesex University. I am always learning at every single opportunity.

The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a joy

Brian Herbert!