In November 2019 we presented virtually at a Canadian conference on ‘Student Voices in Higher Education: Quality Assurance Perspectives and Practices’ at Humber College in Toronto, at which we also facilitated another Scottish student officer to present. This opportunity to present virtually was good practice for what soon became a necessity as everything moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic!
In October 2017 sparqs was invited by the Council on Higher Education in South Africa to facilitate workshops for both staff and students on how to create structures and approaches to productive student participation in quality. The work is part of an ongoing Quality Enhancement Project in South Africa.
In April 2017 sparqs was invited to speak at a seminar for Higher Education Reform Experts on student engagement in governance and QA in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In 2016 sparqs supported a successful application for an Australian Learning and Teaching Senior National Teaching Fellowship entitled Creating a National Framework for Student Partnership in University Decision-making and Governance. We are continuing this collaboration by contributing as an international expert to the Advisory Group for HE Fellowship.
As a result of this work, we were delighted to be invited to Australia in September 2016 to contribute to a symposium hosted by University of Technology Sydney (UTS), exploring the student voice in university decision-making. The symposium was part of a national project (#studentvoiceOLT) looking at student engagement in university decision making and governance in Australian universities – towards a more systemically inclusive student voice and working towards developing a set of principles and a framework for student engagement in Australian universities. We also delivered a series of workshops with both staff and student groups at UTS, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Flinders University.
In both 2014 and 2015 we were invited to visit New Zealand by the NZ Union of Students’ Associations and the national centre for tertiary teaching excellence.
In 2014 we were asked to contribute to a conference of a national project aimed at promoting institutional-level student engagement in NZ's polytechnic sector. We also took the time to meet with various other sectoral and governmental organisations. Read more here.
Dr Alistair Shaw, Executive Director of NZ Union of Students' Associations, said this of our visit:
"We greatly appreciated having sparqs visit and participate in our Student Voice Summit. We learned so much and it has laid the foundation for the development in the near future of an independent student-led agency to support student voice across Aotearoa/New Zealand. We have already incorporated elements of what we learnt into our training and our discourse, and the enthusiastic reception that we get every time we mention that we are working with sparqs opens new doors for us every day."
In May 2015 we visited New Zealand once again, at the invitation of the NZ Union of Students' Associations and Ako Aotearoa (very roughly New Zealand's equivalent of the UK's Higher Education Academy). We were invited to contribute to two national conferences, meet with other agencies, and contribute our perspectives on a variety of topics including reviews, staff development and institution-student body partnerships. You can read the 'Storify' from our visit.
The week after our return from New Zealand, we were delighted to host Dr Alistair Shaw when he visited Scotland. As noted above, he attended our International Delegates' Day on 28th May 2015 as well as the sparqs National Conference on 29th May 2015, at which he delivered a presentation session around the student voice in New Zealand, which can be viewed below:
In 2017, Alistair again contributed to the sparqs Conference, jointly delivering a session on enhancing the student voice with Nicholas Huntington from AKO Aotearoa. The presentation can be viewed here, along with presentations from all the conference sessions, including from colleagues in Australia, Japan, Armenia and Ireland.