Talking student engagement

'Talking student engagement' is a series of occasional interviews with student engagement practitioners – both staff and students, and from within Scotland’s university and college sector and beyond. The interviews aim to capture the different perspectives that people have on student engagement in the quality of learning. They are just one of many channels through which people can share their student engagement practice and experiences. 

Our interviewees share with us a great richness of knowledge and experience of student engagement, but it should be noted that all views expressed in the interviews are the individuals’ own, and do not necessarily reflect those of sparqs or their organisations.

We usually have a small number of future interviews scheduled, but are keen to hear of others who may have interesting perspectives on student engagement – whether a lecturer, course rep, senior student officer, education researcher, or other practitioner. 

To suggest a future subject for interview, please contact us.


Professor Alastair Robertson - April 2024

Alastair is the Director of the Graduate School at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Ellie Garraway and Jon Down, Grit - January 2024

Ellie and Jon are CEO and Director of Development respectively, at Grit: Breakthrough Programmes.

Megan McClellan - November 2023

Megan is the former President and Vice-President (Learning and Teaching) at City of Glasgow College Students’ Association.

Libby Gill - October 2023

Libby is the Student Partnership Development Officer at Robert Gordon University.

Erica Russell-Hensens - September 2023

Erica is the Deputy Director for Student Interests, Access and Pathways at the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). 

Douglas Blackstock - August 2023

Douglas is the President of ENQA (the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education).

Dr Claire Carney - July 2023

Claire is the Vice Principal (Student Experience) with City of Glasgow College. 

Manuel João Costa - April 2023

Manuel is the Pro-Rector for Student Affairs and Pedagogical Innovation at the University of Minho (UMinho), in Portugal.

Kevin McStravock - March 2023

Kevin is the Lead Policy Officer (Devolved Nations and Europe) with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

John O'Hara - February 2023

John is a Senior Learner Engagement Officer at New College Lanarkshire.

Chase Greenfield - January 2023

Chase is the Academic Representation Coordinator at the University of St Andrews Students’ Association.

Ellie Gomersall - November 2022

Ellie is the NUS Scotland President for 2022-23.

Cassie Lowe - October 2022

Cassie is a Senior Teaching Associate at the University of Cambridge. 

Conor Naughton - September 2022

Conor is an Educational Developer at Nottingham Trent University and previous President of its Students' Union. 

Kirsten Koss - July 2022

Kirsten was the NESCol Depute President in 2021-22 and is a newly-recruited sparqs Associate Trainer.  

Lianne Gagnon - May 2022

Lianne is the Director of Student Services at Niagara College, in Ontario, Canada.

Jodie McNair - April 2022

Jodie is a Development Officer at Glasgow Clyde College Students’ Association (GCCSA).

Anne Campbell - March 2022

Anne is the Vice-Principal (Curriculum) at Ayrshire College.

Sofia Khan - February 2022

Sofia is the Access and Participation Coordinator at University of Strathclyde Students’ Association.

Charlotte Britton-Stevens - January 2022

Charlotte is the Union Development Project Manager at NUS Charity.

Sandra McLoughlan - December 2021

Sandra is the Dean for Student Recruitment and Experience at New College Lanarkshire.

Sam Smith - October 2021

Sam is the former National Vice President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), who recently led a project for New Zealand’s higher education quality body, the Academic Quality Agency (AQA).

Megan Doherty - August 2021

Megan is a graduate of the University of Dundee and former Student Voice Support Officer at Dundee University Students’ Association.

Heloisa Fyfe - April 2021

Heloisa is the Vice-President (Representation and Volunteers) at Edinburgh Napier Students’ Association for 2020-21. 

Charlie Reis - March 2021

Charlie is the Director of the Educational Development Unit at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XTJLU) in China and founder of CAPED, the China-based Association for Partnership in Educational Development.

Kevin Sinclair - February 2021

Kevin is the Student Engagement Manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands. 

Ruth Ní Bheoláin - January 2021

Ruth is the Quality Assurance Officer at Hibernia College in Dublin, Ireland.

Dr Luke Millard - November 2020

Luke is the Dean of Teaching and Learning at Abertay University.

Ian McCartney - October 2020

Ian is the Clerk to the Board of Management at Perth College UHI.

Matt Crilly - September 2020

Matt is the new President of NUS Scotland for 2020-21.

Professor Tim Whalley - June 2020

Tim is the Dean for Student Experience at the University of Stirling

Katie Dubarry & James Bamkin - January 2020

Katie is the Vice-President of Scotland’s Rural College Students’ Association (SRUCSA) and James is the Students’ Association Development Officer at SRUC. 

Billy Docherty - December 2019

Billy is a student of psychology and a Faculty Association Rep at The Open University. 

Leila Adair & Toby Reid - November 2019

Leila and Toby are S3 pupils and Young Leaders of Learning at Harlaw Academy in Aberdeen.

Rob McDermott - September 2019

Rob is the Quality Manager at Forth Valley College.

Maya Sutherland - August 2019

Maya manages the Quality Assurance/Evaluation process at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Kate Walsh - July 2019

Kate is the Project Manager of the Student Voice Australia national project. 

Lucy Gault - June 2019

Lucy is the Vice President Education at Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union (2017-19).

Professor Norman Sharp OBE - May 2019

Norman is the former Chair of the sparqs' Trustee Board.

Sorcha Kirker - April 2019

Sorcha is the Vice-President (Higher Education) of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA).

Mark Charters - March 2019

Mark is the Academic Development Coordinator at Glasgow School of Art.

Megan Brown - February 2019

Megan is the Academic Engagement Co-ordinator at Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA).

Tom Lowe - January 2019

Tom is the manager of the Centre for Student Engagement at the University of Winchester and Secretary for the international RAISE network.

Ignas Gaižiūnas - November 2018

Ignas is a student at Vilnius University in Lithuania.

Lucy Mercer-Mapstone - October 2018

Lucy is a Research Fellow at The University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Academic Development, on a six month fellowship from Australia.

Stewart Kirkland - September 2018

Stewart is one of sparqs’ new Associate Trainers for 2018-19 and a student at Edinburgh Napier University.

William Hasty - August 2018

William is a Quality and Enhancement Specialist with QAA Scotland.

Gemma Jones - July 2018

Gemma is the newly elected Deputy President of NUS Scotland for 2018-19.

Oisin Hassan - June 2018

Oisin is Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Meera Sabaratnam - May 2018

Meera is a lecturer and BA Programme Convenor in International Relations at SOAS University of London.

Matt Adie - April 2018

Matt is the Vice-President (Education) at the University of Stirling Students’ Union and Student Theme Lead for the current QAA Enhancement Theme.

Stewart Squire - March 2018

Stewart is the Democratic Support & Policy Co-ordinator at Dundee University Students’ Association.

Kerry Harrison - February 2018

Kerry is the President (Education and Welfare) of Robert Gordon University Students’ Union.

Cathy Bovill - January 2018

Cathy is a Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement at The University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Academic Development.

Josh Gall - November 2017

Josh is the Regional President of the Students’ Association at North East Scotland College.

Rachael Page - October 2017

Rachael is a Community Skills student at Fife College’s ASPIRE Centre (Additional Support Programmes In Real Environments).

Jim Metcalfe - September 2017

Jim is the Chief Executive of the College Development Network.

Kat Bateson - August 2017

Kat is a a Student Engagement Assistant with the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, the students’ association of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Dale Whelehan - July 2017

Dale is the former Education Officer and Deputy President for 2016-17 at Trinity College Dublin Students' Union in Ireland.

Raziya Isayeva - June 2017

Raziya is the Development Director at Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Jodie Waite - May 2017

Jodie is the incoming Vice-President (Education) of NUS Scotland for 2017-18, having been a Vice President at Glasgow Caledonian University for the past two academic years.

Simon Boehme - April 2017

Simon is the Director of Student Engagement at The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher and Postsecondary Education based in Oakland, California, which has been established to explore new ideas in quality assurance.

Gohar Hovhannisyan - March 2017

Gohar is the International Officer with the Armenian National Students’ Association (ANSA), and a Masters student in insurance at the Armenian State University of Economics.

Greg Mannion - February 2017

Greg is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences (Education) at University of Stirling.

Dougie Smith - January 2017

Dougie is a Students’ Association Liaison Officer at City of Glasgow College.

Dr Natalie Watters - November 2016

Natalie is a lecturer and project manager for the online Masters in Education at the University of Glasgow, and a former sparqs Associate Trainer. 

Sally Varnham - October 2016

Sally is a law professor at the University of Technology Sydney UTS), and an Australian Learning and Teaching National Senior Fellow.

Cat O'Driscoll - September 2016

Cat is the Co-ordinator of the new pilot National Student Engagement Programme in Ireland.

Chris Daisley - August 2016

Chris is the Vice-President for the School of Engineering and Built Environment at Glasgow Caledonian University Students’ Association.

Jane Culpan - July 2016

Jane is a programme leader at Queen Margaret University.

Lindsay Henderson - June 2016

Lindsay is the Quality and Learner Engagement Co-ordinator at North Highland College UHI.

Paul Chapman - May 2016

Paul is the Director of Student Support and Involvement at the University of Manchester Students’ Union.

Ian Glen - April 2016

Ian is a Business Analyst in the Student Systems Unit at Heriot-Watt University.

Iain Maitland and Mary Young - March 2016

Iain and Mary work in the Students’ Office at the University of the West of Scotland.

Ruth Tudor - February 2016

Ruth is the President of the Open University Students' Association.

Libby Curtis - January 2016

Libby is the Associate Head of School at Gray’s School of Art, at The Robert Gordon University.

Iain Morrison - November 2015

Iain is the Dean of Students at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Jasmin Davies-Hodge - October 2015

Jasmin is Organisational Learning Co-ordinator at Forth Valley College.

Rebecca Maxwell Stuart - September 2015

Rebecca is a student engagement researcher and practitioner who has recently completed a thesis on transnational student engagement.

Tam Baillie - August 2015

Tam is Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Rob Henthorn - July 2015

Rob is the newly elected Vice President (Education) at NUS Scotland for 2015-16.

Dash Sekhar - June 2015

Dash served as sabbatical Vice-President (Academic Affairs) at Edinburgh University Students’ Association during 2014-15.

Shona Struthers - May 2015

Shona is chief executive of Colleges Scotland, the campaigning and policy membership organisation for the college sector. 

Celeste McLaughlin - April 2015

Celeste is the Subject Specialist for Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Jisc.

Amy Hamilton - March 2015

Amy is the Students' Association Development Officer at Borders College. 

Hannele Keränen - February 2015

Hannele is the Quality Manager at the Lapland University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Finland.  

Myra McCabe - January 2015

Myra is Head of Student Services at Edinburgh College. 

Phil Ker - December 2014

Phil is Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand. 

Mark Huxham - November 2014

Mark is Director of Academic Strategy and Professor of Teaching and Research in Environmental Biology at Edinburgh Napier University.

Morven Stewart - October 2014

Morven is a sparqs Associate Trainer and a fourth-year student at Glasgow School of Art.

University of Lincoln Student Engagement Team - September 2014 

An interview with Alice Coleman, Davide Castro and Dan Derricott on the university's approach to student engagement.

Ondrej Hajda - August 2014

Ondrej is Director of Representation at the University of St Andrews Students' Association for academic year 2014-15. 

Stewart Hay MBE - July 2014

Stewart was deputy head at Anderson High School in Lerwick, and is the 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.

Student Engagement Framework
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