Monitoring diversity of course reps

In 2017, sparqs began a pilot project with four institutions – Edinburgh University, Fife College, SRUC and the University of the West of Scotland – to monitor the diversity of course representatives.

Read on for further information and how to get involved if your institution is interested in participating in this valuable piece of work. 

Establishing the diversity of course reps across Scottish universities and colleges is a valuable piece of work in its own right. Gathering this information is a critical first step in advancing the equality and diversity of student representation – you cannot manage what you don’t measure. It will also create an evidence-base for supporting further activities and initiatives to improve diversity, as well as providing a benchmark against which future activity can be monitored and measured.

In addition, measuring the diversity of course reps will provide metrics for individual institutions that can feed in to other existing strands of work and formal reporting requirements in which they are already engaged, e.g. Athena SWAN, Gender Action Plans, quality frameworks and Outcome Agreements.

The pilot was overseen by a short-term working group, comprising sparqs staff and representatives from each of the participating colleges and universities. This ensured the active engagement of the institutions in the development of all aspects of the research design and, ultimately, created a questionnaire and methodology that are fit for purpose. We also liaised with the Equality Challenge Unit throughout the early developmental stages of the project, drawing on their experience and expertise.

The pilot was highly successful and we worked in partnership with Advance HE (formerly the Equality Challenge Unit), to roll the project out to all interested institutions.  We began with an introductory rollout event on the afternoon of Tuesday 26th June 2018, attended by three colleges and six universites. The event was aimed at anyone with an interest in this work and the capacity to take it forward within their college or university – institution or students’ association staff, as well as student officers.

In 2017, sparqs began a pilot project with four institutions to monitor the diversity of course representatives. Alongside Advance HE (formerly the Equality Challenge Unit), we created a questionnaire that covered 16 demographic questions. This questionnaire is designed to be administered to course reps at training.

How to get involved

Since academic year 2020-21, course reps at institutions whose training is delivered by sparqs trainers, receive the questionnaire as part of their training. In addition, some students’ associations who are not in our AT scheme have also signed up to administer the questionnaire during their own training sessions. The data from the survey will be shared with students’ associations so that they can use this information for their own activities. Over time, sparqs aims to gain a national picture of course rep diversity in Scotland and consider where there may be cross-institutional activity that can take place as a result of findings.

If you would like to be part of the Monitoring the Diversity of Course Reps project and administer the questionnaire at your own institution, please get in contact. 

To register interest or for more information about the project, please contact Justin Walker.

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