23 March 2017

sparqs Conference: Celebrating the impact of the student voice on quality enhancement


Surgeons' Hall
Nicolson Street
Tel: 0131 527 3434


Before clicking "Book Now" please read all of the following information to choose which sessions you would like to attend; read about additional opportunities if you are from outwith Scotland; and review the conference fees and payment options (if applicable).
Scotland is increasingly recognised as a beacon of student engagement; specifically the role that students individually and collectively play in enhancing the quality of the student learning experience. This conference provides an opportunity for us all to pause, and take stock of the advances in student engagement that we have made in Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally as well as recognising the challenges that still exist as we move forward into an increasingly fast changing post-16 education and training environment.

We invite you to join us to explore the impact of the student voice on the enhancement of the student learning experience and institutional decision-making. 


The conference will begin at 9.45am (with registration open from 9.00am) and will close around 4.35pm. Following a short break, during which we will begin serving drinks and canapés, the Awards reception will take place, due to finish around 6.30pm. 

Conference Speakers

We are delighted that the conference will be opened by Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.  The day will be a blend of keynote sessions covering the key themes in student engagement, as well as a range of workshops, presentations and displays.  The keynote speakers include:  

  • Adam Gajek - European Students’ Union (ESU) Executive Committee member and member of the ESU Quality Assurance Student Experts' Pool.
  • Rebecca MacLennan - Programme Manager - Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland, Scottish Council for Development and Industry.  Rebecca is a former sparqs Associate Trainer.
  • Stewart Hay - former deputy head at Anderson High School in Lerwick, Shetland, and founder of The Global Classroom, an international partnership that allows staff and students at secondary schools across the world to share experiences on learning and teaching.
  • Vonnie Sandlan - President, NUS Scotland.

You can read the speakers' biographies for details about their background and experience. 

Workshop and Presentation sessions

When registering, you will be required to choose the workshop/presentation sessions you wish to attend on the day.  To enable you to make your choices (1st, 2nd and 3rd preferences for each session), please read the Workshop and Presentation Outlines document which details all the sessions. 


The conference is aimed at students, managers and practitioners in colleges, universities and other post-16 providers, sector agencies and international partners from Europe and further afield.

Student Engagement Awards

In a fitting end to the day, the conference will be rounded off with the second sparqs Student Engagement Awards! We invited students' associations and institutions within Scotland to submit nominations across a range of six categories. See the Awards webpage for all the details. Nominations are now closed, the deadline for submissions was Monday 20th February 2017.

International Delegates

Delegates attending from outside the UK have the option to attend an additional day before the conference on Wednesday 22nd March. The day will provide an opportunity to learn about the Scottish context of student engagement, including a visit to the University of Stirling, with some sightseeing and Scottish hospitality along the way!  See the International Delegates’ Day webpage for further information about what the day includes and the costs.  If attending the International Delegages' Day as well as the main conference, there is an option to book both days when registering.

Optional university/agency site visits

In addition to the above-noted international delegates day, we have had queries from some of our international visitors about other potential places to visit whilst they are over in Scotland.  Therefore, we have arranged some hosted site visits to institutions and a Sector agency, with the kind help of our University Advisory Group colleagues.  There are a range of visits available, spanning the week of the conference, for people to sign up directly with the institution/agency as they wish (delegates will also need to arrange their own travel). The visits will allow people to hear more about our student engagement and quality processes, whilst enabling visitors to see a bit more of Scotland! 

Click here to view details of the visits available - please sign up by Friday 10th March 2017!

Practical Information

For visitors to Edinburgh, we have prepared some useful information about the city, including maps, travel and accommodation options and tourism information.  We hope that you find this helpful, but please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any queries.

Please note that delegates are required to book and pay for their own travel and accommodation. 

For further information about the conference venue, please see the Surgeons' Hall website.

The conference hashtag, for use on Twitter, is #sparqs17

Delegates will receive joining instructions by email nearer the conference. 

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding the conference, please email admin@sparqs.ac.uk or contact the office on 0131 622 6599.


Registration and conference fees

When you have decided on your session options and are ready to register, click "Book Now" at the top of this page. 

While we are not limiting the amount of spaces an institution can book, please note that if the conference is oversubscribed we may need to ask institutions to prioritise their list of attendees.  

When confirming your booking, if payment is applicable, you will be taken to a Paypal page, with options to pay by card or via your Paypal account.  If you are unable to pay by card or Paypal, please contact us at admin@sparqs.ac.uk before proceeding with your registration, to arrange to be invoiced.

Please note that the early bird rates have now expired. 

Conference registration closes on Friday 10th March 2017.

Please note that registration will be managed offline for the following: NStEP (10 pre-paid reserved places), ESPAQ project members, and lead contacts for successful workshops/presentations.  If one of these categories applies to you, please do not register via the website. If you have not received a separate email regarding your registration, please contact us at admin@sparqs.ac.uk.


This is a chargeable event, with the following pricing options:

Students/student officers studying in a Scottish institution (FREE)£0.00
Scotland Sector Agency staff£50.00
Scotland Students' Association/Institution staff£50.00
Outwith Scotland - main conference only£120.00
Outwith Scotland - main conference plus additional International Day on 22nd March£240.00

All Current & Past Events:

Student Engagement Framework

sparqs Conference: Celebrating the impact of the student voice on quality enhancement

23 Mar 2017

Before clicking "Book Now" please read all of the following information to choose which sessions you would…