The international reputation of sparqs continues to grow throughout 2014. Following on from our involvement in recent European project conferences in Armenia and Kosovo, two of our staff visited New Zealand in late April/early May 2014 for a busy programme of conference contributions, meetings and visits.
The unique way in which student engagement is built into the heart of quality in Scotland’s universities and colleges has attracted interest from the organisers of a conference on developing the student voice in New Zealand’s polytechnics, to which sparqs contributed sessions on democratising learning, representing non-traditional students, and developing action plans.
The conference itself was a continuation of a joint project on the student voice between Ako Aotearoa (the national centre for tertiary teaching excellence - who undertake a role broadly similar to that of the UK’s Higher Education Academy) and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.
While in New Zealand, our team also met with many others from the sector, both to talk about Scotland’s approaches to student engagement, including the Student Engagement Framework for Scotland, as well as to learn from New Zealand’s practice.
They met with Ako Aotearoa themselves, the Tertiary Education Commission (the equivalent of the Scottish Funding Council), the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (who are responsible for quality assurance and qualification regulation), the Ministry of Education, the opposition party’s tertiary education spokesperson, and Universities New Zealand.
The trip is yet another example of the high international regard in which the Scottish approach to quality, and sparqs in particular, is held.