Principles and Approaches
In implementing our strategic plan, the following principles and approaches are at the heart of our work:
Promote, support and explore partnership between students and staff, acknowledging the complexity of the approach and the nature of partnership as a journey rather than a definitive end point. The rest of our principles and approaches all contribute further to a partnership approach.
Engage students not simply in providing opinions and feedback to solve problems, but in working together to arrive at jointly established priorities for enhancement, develop solutions and build strategies to meet challenges.
Value and harness the expertise students bring to the assurance and enhancement of the student learning experience. In supporting students to develop their expertise we also support them to value and draw on the expertise of others.
Support the development of effective, independent representative systems that are strengthened by measures to capture and utilise the diversity of individual student voices. Recognise the key role of students’ associations in effective partnership working.
Build an evidence-based approach. To contribute effectively, students need access to appropriate sources of information and data and need to be able to use that data collaboratively and effectively.
Create opportunities and provide support for students and staff to engage in constructive dialogue at all levels, including, but not exclusively, formal decision-making and quality assurance and enhancement processes. In establishing this dialogue it is important to foster openness, trust and respect, as well as acknowledge differences in the balance of power.
Develop a shared understanding of student engagement. Our activities will encourage participants to learn from each other, share practice, explore approaches and facilitate discussion. Our staff will use their knowledge and experience to provide support and appropriate challenge. The Student Engagement Framework for Scotland will provide a common framework to underpin our work.
Learn from and influence student engagement activities internationally, contributing to the reputation of Scotland as an excellent place to be a student and nurturing our position as a global leader in student engagement.
You can read more about our work and direction in our Strategic Plan for 2019-22.
We are now in an interim period while the sector undergoes some significant changes, such as the SFC Review and changes to national quality arrangements. During this interim period, we are planning the next phase of sparqs’ work, which will build on past and current activities and move forward to new approaches in student engagement. Our planning began at a Strategic Planning event on 4th May 2023, along with members of our Trustee Board and members of our three key stakeholder forums, JAG, SESN and NEON. As ever, we will strive to be innovative and responsive in the design and delivery process, to ensure that we continue to use our resources effectively.
Learning from and sharing with institutions
Key to us delivering on our strategic plan is working closely and regularly with the staff and students in all institutions around the sector.
Our regular engagements help us to learn about the challenges institutions are experiencing, meaning we can shape our work around the sector’s priorities, encourage institutions to work together where they have shared objectives, and produce materials and tools that are relevant, practical and can truly contribute to the enhancement of the learning experience. This includes our work to further promote the use of the Student Engagement Framework for Scotland and our Scottish Funding Council-funded work with NUS Scotland on Developing College Students’ Associations. You can find out more about how we can help on our institutional support pages.
Our engagements with institutions also help us to learn about successes, celebrate effective practice, and share across and beyond Scotland, for instance through our Resource Library, our events, our news articles, our international consultancy, and the toolkits and other publications you can find throughout our website.
To support universities and colleges, members of sparqs staff act as key contacts for institutions.
Please feel free to contact Eve Lewis if you have any queries.