9 Jan 2023

Happy New Year from the sparqs' team!

Happy new year from the sparqs team! We look forward to working with you all again during 2023! 

In the year ahead we will continue to provide support to colleges and universities and their students' associations, including enabling effective contribution to the national work ongoing within the sector. We will also continue to work closely with the Scottish Funding Council and other key sector partners at the national level. As a result of the national developments, our current workplan is an interim one, aiming to remain as flexible and responsive to the needs of the sector in terms of our 'business as usual' work.  There is a lot of exciting work going on as the sector moves towards the tertiary quality system.

Both NEON and SESN will be key opportunities for updating staff and officers on such national sector developments and allowing them to contribute to discussions appropriately.  We would therefore encourage attendance at these networks. 

Our first two network events of the new year will be open for bookings next week!  In the meantime, please save the dates (if they're not already in your diary) and view the provisional agendas....

  • Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN)
    - Thursday 2nd March 2023
     – online, 10.00am-1.00pm.
    - view the provisional Agenda
  • National Education Officers' Network (NEON)
    - Thursday 9th March 2023
     via Zoom, 10.00am-1.00pm.
    - view the provisional Agenda

Our college and university advisory groups will continue to meet jointly as JAG for the coming year, which is a perfect forum for contributing to the tertiary work.  The groups are invaluable in helping to ensure that all of sparqs' work is meeting the needs of both colleges and universities and we thank members for their continued contributions and support. 

A key piece of the tertiary work is our redevelopment of the Student Learning Experience (SLE) model, which will form a key part of the sector's new quality arrangements. The tertiary approach will put the experiences of students at the centre of discussions institutions have about the quality of their learning and teaching. Many thanks to all those who have hosted workshops so far and to those who have workshops coming up during the next month or so. The work is progressing well and analysis of the data is already underway! 

Another key piece of work is the recently-introduced Tertiary Enhancement Topic around ‘The future of learning and teaching: defining and delivering an effective and inclusive digital/blended offering.’  It will be developed in partnership with students and we are asking students’ associations and students’ unions to feed into the enhancement topic discussion, providing data and experiences from their students around online and digital learning.  Again, NEON and SESN will be key routes to enable institutions to ensure their students' views are heard. 

We also have several other exciting pieces of work in the pipeline which allow opportunities to get involved!  We are looking for volunteers to take part in a project to explore student engagement in enhancing college learner outcomes.   We are also looking for college and university students to contribute to a National Student-led Project on Learner Communities - the students of the QAA Student-led Project are seeking photos of your learning environment to contribute to their photo exhibition about Scotland’s learner communities.  

Another exciting opportunity, launched at the end of last year, is our new Buddying Scheme for student engagement staff across Scotland!  Sign up now if you'd like to be partnered with a sector colleague! 

In addition to all of the above and all of our 'business as usual' activity such as CRT and officer training, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary since sparqs was founded!  We will be marking this exciting anniversary in Autumn 2023, most likely with a celebratory event with scope for both reflecting and looking forward.  Further details will be published in due course. 


Stay in the loop!

As demonstrated above, much of our work involves opportunities for you to get involved, through working groups and projects, so please keep yourself up to date with any opportunities by reading our regular news mailings!

Our first batch of news articles of the new year will be published soon, so please watch this space! They'll also recap our articles from mid-December in case anyone missed them, featuring some of the above pieces of work along with other news and resources, including a newly-launched sector jobs board!

If you're not signed up to our mailing list, you can sign up here.


Best wishes for a great 2023 from all of the sparqs team! 

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