30 May 2015

sparqs National Conference: 29th May 2015 - thank you for attending

Thanks to everyone who attended our conference and contributed to the wide range of workshops and presentations on the programme. Special thanks to all those who delivered keynotes and facilitated workshops and presentations. The conference was an excellent showcase for the breadth and quality of student engagement work that is taking place across colleges and universities in Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally. It was noteworthy that attendance and participation from students in both colleges and universities was high.

The day began with a welcome from Eve Lewis, Head of sparqs followed by a formal opening of the conference by Professor Alice Brown, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council.

Our first keynote came from Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lincoln and Dan Derricott, the University’s Student Engagement Manager. In it they outlined the journey of change that Lincoln has taken to develop a culture of partnership with students. It was clear that this was institution-wide change with a long-term strategic approach, focusing on the empowerment of staff to engage students effectively. It was an excellent start to the day’s proceedings.

Our first round of workshops enabled delegates to take part in discussions around:

  • Partnership in curriculum design
  • The student voice in external review in universities (QAA) and colleges (Education Scotland)
  • Equality and diversity
  • Student use of data
  • Strategic approaches to student partnership
  • The future of tertiary education in Scotland

These were followed by the first set of presentations which outlined work on:

  • Co-curriculum developments
  • Faculty level representation
  • Student Partnership Agreements
  • Student engagement in New Zealand
  • Engaging apprentices
  • Developments in the sparqs institutional Associate Trainer Scheme

Following the networking lunch our second keynote was on working in partnership with students to create successful transitions from college to university. It was led by Liz Gunn, the Strategic Lead for the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Articulation Hub (ELRAH) together with input from Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President, David McKay and Gabriel Kemp, students at Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University. Questions focused on the work required by both colleges and universities to ensure that the transition process took account of the specific needs of articulating students.

Our afternoon workshops covered:

  • Transitions from college to university
  • Student-led staff development
  • The student voice in the use of online learning approaches
  • Peer learning
  • Sustainability in the curriculum

Last but not least, was our final round of presentations covering:

  • Students' Association benchmarking
  • Student led university policy on Care Leavers
  • Student engagement in the University of Maribor, Slovenia
  • Student-led enhancement of learning and teaching
  • Engagement with post-graduate taught (PGT) students

As a fitting end to the day, the conference closed with the first sparqs Student Engagement Awards, which recognised and celebrated good practice across Scottish colleges and universities.  Congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and well done if you picked up an award!  See the Awards page for the list of winners and runners-up! 

Thanks again for attending and all the useful contributions that were made during the workshops and presentations. Materials from all the sessions will be uploaded shortly.  Meantime, you can get a flavour of the day from the 'Storify' of the event via Twitter.

The conference twitter feed #sparqs15 was on fire during the day – we were trending we think in the Edinburgh area, beaten only by National Biscuit Day and Sepp Blatter!

Headlines Archive:

Student Engagement Framework

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