This blog was written by Professor Sara Spear, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at St Mary’s University. It is the tenth in our series on leadership in partnership with the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE).
The ‘Building Belonging in Higher Education’ report by Wonkhe and Pearson emphasised the need for institution-wide approaches to developing student belonging, proposing ‘connection, inclusion, support and autonomy’ as the foundational principles of belonging. Although the report focused on students, the authors also noted that staff commitment to building student belonging is likely to be influenced by their own experience of belonging. There is extensive research on the associations between belonging and mental health and wellbeing, highlighting its importance at a time when staff wellbeing is a high priority for higher education leaders. We can therefore consider how the foundations of student belonging may also help us in understanding and fostering staff belonging.