How we work

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.

Solution Focused
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.

Student Experts
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.

Representative Systems
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.

Evidence Based
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.

Constructive Dialogue
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.

Shared Understanding
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.

Global Leader
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.

Learning from institutions

Overall, throughout our work we learn a great deal from the staff and students we meet.

By supporting college and universities around the country, we learn about their effective practice in student engagement and can identify examples for our resource library. We can better understand the challenges they face and how they overcome them. We can also identify the common themes and experiences emerging around the sector.

This allows us to put institutions and students' associations across Scotland in touch with each other - to share good ideas and approaches, or to work together in engaging with national initiatives such as HEAR or Student Partnership Agreements.

Annual Support Visits

We carry out Annual Support Visits (ASVs) as a way of better understanding and meeting the needs of the institutions and students' associations that we work with.  As of 2016/17 we have introduced colleges into this process, whereas previously we undertook formal ASVs with universities only, due to engaging regularly with colleges throughout the regionalisation process and more recently through our continued national support around the delivery of the Framework for the Development of Strong and Effective College Students’ Associations in Scotland

The ASVs involve key staff and student officers with an aim to find out more about institutional priorities, challenges and successes over the past year, look to where we can support them in the coming year, highlight our recent work, and identify common themes across the sector.  The focus of the meeting and the agenda are discussed and agreed prior to the visit in order to make them as valuable to the institution as possible.

Key contacts

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.


Student Engagement Framework

National Education Officers’ Network - university officers' catch-up

20 Aug 2020

Our National Education Officers’ Network will have a short, online meeting by Zoom on Thursday 20th…


That's Quality! Colleges 2020

13 Aug 2020 - 14 Aug 2020

The aim of the event is to equip participants with the knowledge and ability to be…