29 Mar 2019

Thank you to everyone who attended the sparqs' conference!

A huge thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the sparqs' Conference on Thursday 28th March 2019, at Surgeons' Hall in Edinburgh!  The day was a great success, with a fantastic turnout of around 200 delegates from Scotland and all over the world! 

You can read the conference Twitter story for an overview of the day!

Conference Speakers

We were delighted that the conference was opened by Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council. The day was a blend of keynote sessions, panel discussion and a range of workshops, presentations and poster displays.  Huge thanks to all our speakers, panel members and session presenters - we heard lots of good feedback throughout the day about the range of interesting and inspiring presentations!  Thank you also to the fantastic team of BSL/English Interpreters who signed the conference throughout the day.

Alongside Karen, our other speakers and panel members were: 

  • Carol Hunter - Student President, Fife College
  • Maxine Jolly - Young Inspectors' Programme, Education Scotland
  • Rob McDermott - Quality Manager, Forth Valley College
  • Dr Aileen McGuigan - Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Dundee
  • Ciaran Stewart - ex Course Rep for BA Performance in BSL/English, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Sir Andrew Cubie - incoming Chair of sparqs
  • Dr Pauline Hanesworth - Senior Adviser, Advance HE
    ~ Introduced by: Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President

You can read the speakers' biographies for details about their background and experience, and view the conference programme for details of the day. Videos from the plenary sessions will be uploaded in due course. 


The sessions featured both workshops and presentations, some of which were grouped together by topic where they complemented each other. 

You can view the presentations from the speakers and all of the sessions and read more detailed information on all the sessions in the Workshop and Presentation Outlines document.

New Chair of sparqs' Trustee Board

At the conference we welcomed Sir Andrew Cubie as the new Chair of sparqs' Trustee Board, whilst bidding a fond farewell to our much-valued outgoing Chair, Professor Norman Sharp OBE.  While we are sorry to say farewell to Norman, we are delighted to have Sir Andrew on board and look forward to working with him going forward.

New sparqs' Strategic Plan 2019-22

Sir Andrew's first task as our new Chair was to launch our new Strategic Plan, which sets out our work and direction for the next three years.  Our video accompanying the plan will be uploaded in due course. 

Student Engagement Awards Winners!

In a fitting end to the day, the conference was rounded off with the third sparqs' Student Engagement Awards! We invited students' associations and institutions within Scotland to submit nominations across a range of six categories. 

Huge congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!  

Individual category webpages with further details on all the submissions and course reps can be accessed by clicking on the category headings on the Awards page!  


Additional opportunities for delegates from outwith Scotland

Delegates attending from outwith the UK were also offered the opportunity to attend an additional International Delegates' Day on Wednesday 27th March, the day before the main conference. The day provided an opportunity to learn about the Scottish context of student engagement, including a visit to the University of Dundee, with some sightseeing and Scottish hospitality along the way!  

We received great feedback about the day from the 20+ guests who joined us on the trip to Dundee.  Many thanks to Dundee University Students' Association and University of Dundee for hosting our guests, and to QAA Scotland for their input to the day.  

You can view the presentations from both Dundee and QAA Scotland and read the Twitter story from the day for a flavour of how the day went and some photos.  

In addition to the international delegates day, we arranged some optional site visits to a college, universities and a sector agency.  A range of visits were available, spanning the week of the conference, for people to sign up directly with the institution/agency. The visits aimed to allow people to hear more about our student engagement and quality processes, whilst enabling visitors to see a bit more of Scotland!  Many thanks to everyone who hosted a visit!


Once again, thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the conference, the international delegates' day and the site visits, we couldn't have done it without you!!

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