sparqs Conference 2019

'Student Engagement for All'  #sparqs19

Thursday 28th March 2019 at Surgeons’ Hall, Edinburgh


Registration for the sparqs conference is still open! See the conference booking page to register ....please book before Friday 22nd February 2019. 

The theme for the conference is ‘Student Engagement for All’. It will provide an opportunity to focus on and pull together activity from across the sector on student engagement in relation to widening access, equality and diversity, transitions, representation of non-traditional students, staff development…and more! The conference will provide an opportunity to showcase this work, share expertise and learn from good practice with colleagues from Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond.

The conference hashtag is #sparqs19

Conference speakers

We are delighted that the conference will be opened by Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council. The day will be a blend of keynote sessions, panel discussions and a range of workshops, presentations and displays, including the following speakers: 

  • 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
  • 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.


You can view the conference programme for details of the day and timings for both the conference and the Student Engagement Awards' reception. 

Choose your sessions before booking!

When registering, you will be asked to choose which sessions you would like to attend at the conference. Please read the Workshop and Presentation Outlines document to enable you to make your choices - you will be asked to choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd preferences for each session. If you are a presenter, please choose your own workshop/presentation under the relevant session. 

Conference Fees

The registration fees are detailed below (early-bird rates ended on Friday 18th January 2019). Registration closes on Friday 22nd February, so please be sure to book before then. 

  • Students studying in a Scottish institution - FREE
  • Staff from a Scottish institution, students’ association or sector agency – £60
  • All delegates from outside Scotland (conference only) - £130
  • All delegates from outside Scotland (conference plus International Delegates' Day) - £260


Student Engagement Awards

In a fitting end to the day, the conference will be rounded off with the third sparqs' Student Engagement Awards.  View the full list of awards shortlists to see who is in the running for all the awards!  Congratulations to all those shortlisted, and good luck!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to make submissions, they were of a very high standard and it was a tough decision for panel members to choose between them. 

The awards will be presented at the end of our conference on Thursday 28th March 2019 and we very much hope that delegates will be able to stay on for the awards reception, taking place from 5.00-6.30pm.  The reception will be hosted by Professor Norman Sharp OBE, Chair of sparqs Trustee Board.

Not attending the conference, but wish to attend the awards?

Anyone involved in a shortlisted awards submission who isn't attending the full conference is most welcome to join us for the Awards ceremony at 5.00pm. Please just let us know at if you are coming along.


Opportunities for International delegates

Once again, we have organised some optional pre-conference activities for our international delegates to ensure they get the most out of their trip to Scotland.

This includes an International Delegates’ Day on Wednesday 27th March, which will provide attendees with an opportunity to visit an institution and learn more about the Scottish context of student engagement (with some sightseeing and Scottish hospitality along the way!).  Please note that there is a fee to cover the cost of this day, as outlined above.

Spanning the week of the conference, we have also organised some additional visits to institutions and sector agencies, which international delegates are invited to opt into, depending on their interests and availability. There is no cost for these visits, but delegates will need to make their own travel arrangements as required.

See the International Delegate Programme page for all the details. 


Key dates:

  • Call for proposals open: Thursday 2nd August 2018.
  • Call for proposals deadline: Friday 12th October 2018.
  • Awards open for institutional/SA submissions: Friday 7th September 2018.
  • Awards submissions deadline (institutional/SA): Friday 11th January 2019.
  • Awards submissions open for Course Rep of the Year: Monday 7th January 2019.
  • Awards submissions deadline (Course Rep of the Year): Friday 8th February 2019.
  • Registration open (with early-bird rates): Wednesday 12th December 2018.
  • Early-bird registration rate ended: Friday 18th January 2019.
  • Registration closes: Friday 22nd February 2019.


Practical information

For visitors to Edinburgh, we have prepared some useful information about the city, including maps, travel and accommodation options and tourism information.  We hope that you find this helpful. 

See our conference map for locations of the main conference, the International Delegates' Day and the site visits, as well as locations of Edinburgh Airport and Waverley train station. 

For further information about the conference venue, please see the Surgeons' Hall website.

Delegates are required to book and pay for their own travel and accommodation. 

The conference hashtag, for use on Twitter, is #sparqs19


Contact us

If you have any queries regarding any of the above, please contact us at, or feel free to contact the conference lead, Lindsay Isaacs, at

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