26 Feb 2017

sparqs Conference ~ 23rd March #sparqs17

The sparqs Conference is almost here and we look forward to welcoming you! Taking place on Thursday 23rd March 2017, at Surgeons' Hall in Edinburgh, it is aimed at students, managers and practitioners in colleges, universities and other post-16 providers, from within Scotland and beyond.  We invite you to join us to explore the impact of the student voice on the enhancement of the student learning experience and institutional decision-making.

Conference Speakers

We are delighted that the conference will be opened by Ms Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.  The day will be a blend of keynote sessions covering the key themes in student engagement, as well as a range of workshops, presentations and displays.  The keynote speakers include:   

  • Adam Gajek - European Students’ Union (ESU) Executive Committee member and member of the ESU Quality Assurance Student Experts' Pool.
  • Rebecca MacLennan - Programme Manager - Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland, Scottish Council for Development and Industry.  Rebecca is a former sparqs Associate Trainer.
  • Stewart Hay - former deputy head at Anderson High School in Lerwick, Shetland, and founder of The Global Classroom, an international partnership that allows staff and students at secondary schools across the world to share experiences on learning and teaching.
  • Vonnie Sandlan - President, NUS Scotland.

You can read the speakers' biographies for details about their background and experience. 


You can view the conference programme for details of the day.

The sessions taking place at the conference are detailed in the Workshop and Presentation Outlines document. Presentations from the sessions will be uploaded on the website following the conference.

Additional opportunities for delegates from outwith Scotland

Delegates attending from outwith the UK have also been offered the opportunity to attend an additional International Delegates’ Day on Wednesday 22nd March, the day before the main conference. The day provides an opportunity to learn about the Scottish context of student engagement, including a visit to the University of Stirling, with some sightseeing and Scottish hospitality along the way!

In addition to the international delegates day, we have arranged some optional site visits to universities and a sector agency, with the kind help of our University Advisory Group colleagues.  A range of visits are available, spanning the week of the conference, for people to sign up directly with the institution/agency. The visits aim to allow people to hear more about our student engagement and quality processes, whilst enabling visitors to see a bit more of Scotland!  Click here to view details of the visits.

Conference fees

The conference fees are detailed on the event page along with payment options.  Please note that there is a registration fee for Scottish delegates (with the exception of students) this time around to cover some of the costs, although this is still a subsidised rate.

Student Engagement Awards

In a fitting end to the day, the conference will be rounded off with the second sparqs Student Engagement Awards! We invited students' associations and institutions within Scotland to submit nominations across a range of six categories. See the Awards webpage for all the details, including the shortlists!   Good luck to all those in the running and thank you to everyone who submitted nominations, they were of a very high standard and it was a tough decision for panel members to choose between them.  

Practical Information

For visitors to Edinburgh, we have prepared some useful information about the city, including maps, travel and accommodation options and tourism information. 

The conference will begin at 9.45am (with registration open from 9.00am) and will close around 4.35pm. Following a short break, during which we will begin serving drinks and canapés, the Awards reception will take place, due to finish around 6.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you if you're coming along, and good luck to all the shortlisted Awards nominees! 

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