4 Jan 2021

Happy New Year from the sparqs team!

Happy new year from the sparqs team! We look forward to working with you all again during what will most certainly be a busy 2021! If you contacted us over the festive season we'll get back to you ASAP, if we've not already done so.

As a sector, we have much to be proud of in terms of our response to the challenges of the pandemic thus far, including the establishment of crucial online rep systems to ensure student engagement in the response. In the new year we will continue to concentrate on ensuring that those reps are able to shape the ongoing responses of institutions to the pandemic, as well as contribute extensively to future planning and responses of the Scottish tertiary education sector.

Our current workplan will continue to keep at its heart a focus on:

  • Ensuring the diversity of the student voice is heard when decisions are taken; and
  • Supporting students to shape changes to learning in a way that supports student wellbeing and mental health.

The team is currently working on a range of activities focused on three key areas:

  1. Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19 on the Student Learning Experience (SLE) and shaping responses.
  2. Ensuring students are central to the major development projects of the sector in response to COVID-19 and beyond.
  3. Providing Intensified Support.

See the recent article on our current workplans to read more about the details of the activities underway in each work area, including development of further materials and support, input into national issues such as the SFC review of provision, and a range of events and network meetings, which are open for bookings below.....


Thursday 21st January 2021 - NEON meeting

A meeting of our National Education Officers' Network (NEON) for college and university student officers with an education remit.  It will take place from 10.00am until 12.45pm.
- see the event booking page to register to attend. 


Tuesday 9th February 2021 - SESN meeting

Our second regular, online, Student Engagement Staff Network meeting of 2020-21, for staff in universities and colleges with student engagement roles and staff with responsibilities for student rep system. The event is taking place online, from 10.00am until 1.00pm.
- see the event booking page to register to attend. 


27th January - 4th February 2021 - a series of national sparqs' events:
The impact of COVID on the Student Learning Experience

- A series of 5 national events designed to gather the views of 5 student cohorts on the impact of COVID on their Student Learning Experience. 

These events are now open for bookings! We would be grateful if students' associations and officers could share these events to the relevant cohorts and advertise them on social media. 

  • Postgraduate Research students: Wednesday 27th January, 3.00–4.30pm
    At this event we are looking to speak to students currently undertaking a postgraduate research degree. This includes those studying doctoral degrees (e.g. PhD, MD, various Professional Doctorates) and those studying research master’s degrees (e.g. MPhil and MRes).
    - see the event booking link to register to attend. 
  • Students with parental/caring responsibilities: Thursday 28th January, 1.00-2.30pm
    At this event we are looking to speak with any students who have children under the age of 18 and/or students who have unpaid caring responsibilities for a family member, partner or friend. We’re looking for students studying at college or university, on any course and on any level of qualification.
    - see the event booking link to register to attend. 
  • Apprentices and work-based learners: Monday 1st February, 2.00-3.30pm and 6.00–7.30pm
    At this event we are looking to speak to students on work-based learning courses. This includes students on foundation apprenticeships, modern apprenticeships and graduate apprenticeships in any job or profession. We are also looking to speak to students on other work-based learning courses, including social work and teacher training.
    - See the event booking links below to register to attend:
    2pm workshop booking link
    6pm workshop booking link
  • Medical and healthcare students: Wednesday 3rd February, 6.00–7.30pm
    At this event we are looking to speak to students studying any medical or healthcare course, including (but not limited to) Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Nutrition & Dietetics, Midwifery and Clinical Psychology. We’re looking for students studying at college or university, at any year of study and across any level of healthcare qualification.
    - see the event booking link to register to attend. 
  • Students studying National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers at college: Thursday 4th February, 4.30-6.00pm
    At this event we are looking to speak with any students studying National 5s, Highers or Advanced Highers at college. This includes students who are studying at college part of the week alongside studying at school, as well as adult returners to education.
    - see the event booking link to register to attend. 

Stay in the loop!

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 the articles from mid-December in case anyone missed them. If you're not signed up to our mailing list, you can sign up here.

As always, our plans will continue to evolve in response to your input. Please do contact Eve Lewis, Director, if you have any comments about our work – eve.lewis@sparqs.ac.uk.

Due to the ongoing COVID restrictions, sparqs is taking steps to safeguard the wellbeing of its staff. To enable staff to take outdoor exercise during daylight hours we are avoiding, as much as possible, scheduling meetings and events during the hours of 12.00pm and 2.00pm. We respectfully ask that you try to avoid this period when arranging to meet with us. We will, of course, honour commitments to appointments that occur during these hours where this is necessary to accommodate large groups and busy schedules.


Best wishes for a kinder 2021 from all of the sparqs team!  Hopefully our continued partnership working across the sector will see us through to easier times by the end of the academic year.   

Headlines Archive:

Student Engagement Framework

Student Engagement Staff Network meeting

9 Feb 2021

Our Student Engagement Staff Network will have its first meeting of 2021 on Tuesday 9th February,…


National Education Officers’ Network meeting

21 Jan 2021

Join us for the first sparqs’ National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) of 2021. NEON was set…