Symposium 21/10/2021 – Keynote from Dr Jan McArthur – Video

Assessment for Social Justice: why belonging matters

Dr Jan McArthur rethinks the purpose of assessment through the lens of social justice.

Drawing upon Axel Honneth, belonging is explored as relational and related to the philosophical idea of recognition.

We consider care, respect and esteem as ways to bring joy and compassion to assessment practices.

This keynote took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

QAA Evolving Student Engagement Conference 2021

Taking place on 29-30 June 2021 this event focused on two key themes:

  • Student wellbeing, mental health and equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Student engagement in teaching, learning and assessment”

QAA said to us: “The conference is aimed at students’ union and provider staff as well as student reps themselves. As the title suggests, the aim is to focus on a variety of ways of enhancing and embedding student engagement.”

Liz Bunting and Vicky Hill presented on 30 June.

The project


A sense of belonging is considered one of the most important needs of students in their learning. The pandemic has deepened feelings of ‘unbelonging’ among many higher education students as it has exacerbated existing inequalities.

This QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project will propose new quality indicators that focus on belonging, compassion and equity, in critique of traditional metrics. It will identify approaches to assessment that nurture belonging through meaningful, compassionate interactions and practices.

By its conclusion in November 2022, the project will deliver a number of open-source outcomes that will be shared with the HE sector:

  • a symposium on compassionate assessment
  • a briefing paper on the project’s activity
  • a blog documenting the organic development of materials and providing a space for exchange of ideas
  • a participatory digital resource.