This short leaflet explains the purpose of sparqs, our principles and values, and our key work areas.
Launched at the sparqs Conference in March 2017, the publication celebrates the work of sparqs since our last conference in 2015, as well as the successes of the institutions, their students' associations and the students and staff that we work with, in Scotland and across the world.
Accompanying the above report is the Celebrating Achievement video, which hears from some of our sector colleagues on the impact of student engagement.
The report provides a summary of our work over the 2014-15 academic year, highlighting a variety of publications, resources and areas of work. It has been a busy year, with much progress made and many new work areas and new partnerships being progressed. There have been many highlights throughout the year and we hope that the report gives a good flavour of our work.
The previous annual reports can also still be viewed:
2012/13 Celebration Reports
College Celebration Report (Executive Summary)
University Celebration Report (Executive Summary)
There had not been a comprehensive investigation of student engagement in Scotland’s universities and colleges for a number of years, and much had changed at sectoral and institutional levels in the sector. Therefore, in 2012/13 sparqs undertook research to inform two key reports, one each into the university and college sectors, that aim to track the trends, practice and systems that have developed in student engagement in recent times, and highlight some useful case studies from around the country.
The reports aimed to celebrate the excellent work that had been done by staff and students, and mark the significant distance that the sector had travelled. The executive summaries were launched at the sparqs Parliamentary reception in December 2012.
In 2013 sparqs launched a new strategic plan to take its work through to 2018. This incorporated a new vision and mission, four strategic aims and a new set of values and approaches to guide our work.
Aiming to support student engagement that leads to a positive and rewarding educational experience, our four strategic aims can be summarised as:
- supporting students
- supporting institutions
- supporting the sector
- developing a culture of student engagement
While we can all claim to support student engagement as a key principle in quality, there are many different interpretations as to what this means.
Recently, therefore, sparqs engaged in a major research exercise to ask staff and students throughout Scotland’s universities and colleges what they thought student engagement meant.
The result was five distinct but overlapping elements of student engagement, and six features that underpin it.
The framework, published in 2012, provides a basis for interpreting, exploring and developing student engagement practices within institutions, students’ associations and the sector as a whole.
It strongly informed the creation of sparqs’ new strategic plan and is the basis for its new resource library.
2005 mapping reports
The last major research into student engagement on this scale undertaken by sparqs was in 2005. It is interesting to see the differences in the sector over those seven or eight years, and so for reference you can download both the FE Mapping Report and the HE Mapping Report.