24 Jan 2023

The year ahead and a recap of our December articles!

Happy new year (slightly belated) from the sparqs team! We look forward to working with you all again during 2023!  

In the year ahead we will continue to provide support to colleges and universities and their students' associations, including enabling effective contribution to the national work ongoing within the sector. We will also continue to work closely with the Scottish Funding Council (our funder) and other key sector partners at the national level.  As a result of the national developments, our current workplan is an interim one, aiming to remain as flexible and responsive to the needs of the sector in terms of our 'business as usual' work.  There is a lot of exciting work going on as the sector moves towards the tertiary quality system.

Both NEON and SESN will be key opportunities for updating staff and officers on such national sector developments and allowing them to contribute to discussions appropriately.  We would therefore encourage attendance at these networks. 

Our first two network events of the new year are now open for bookings....

  • Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN)
    - Thursday 2nd March 2023
     – online, 10.00am-1.00pm.
    - see the event booking page for details and to register to attend. You can view the provisional Agenda for an idea of what the meeting will cover. 
  • National Education Officers' Network (NEON)
    - Thursday 9th March 2023
     via Zoom, 10.00am-1.00pm.
    - see the event booking page for details and to register to attend. You can view the provisional Agenda for an idea of what the meeting will cover. 

Our college and university advisory groups (CAG and JAG) will continue to meet jointly as JAG for the coming year, which is a perfect forum for contributing to the tertiary work.  The groups are invaluable in helping to ensure that all of sparqs' work is meeting the needs of both colleges and universities and we thank members for their continued contributions and support. 

In May, JAG members will again meet jointly with NEON and SESN, following the success of last year's joint event.  The meeting will take place in person on Thursday 4th May 2023, from 10.30am until 3.00pm at Queen Margaret University.  Please save the date! 
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Some key pieces of current and forthcoming work are outlined below, some of which were featured in our December news articles, or are included in this current batch of January articles.... 

A key piece of the tertiary work is our redevelopment of the Student Learning Experience (SLE) model, which will form a key part of the sector's new quality framework. This framework will put the experiences of students at the centre of discussions institutions have about the quality of their learning and teaching. Many thanks to all those who have hosted workshops so far and to those who have workshops coming up during the next month or so. We are extremely grateful for the valuable contributions from all the students taking part. The work is progressing well and analysis of the data is already underway!

Work is also underway on the recently-introduced Tertiary Enhancement Topic around ‘The future of learning and teaching: defining and delivering an effective and inclusive digital/blended offering.’  It will be developed in partnership with students and we are asking students’ associations and students’ unions to feed into the enhancement topic discussion, providing data and experiences from their students around online and digital learning.  Again, NEON and SESN will be key routes to enable institutions to ensure their students' views are heard. 

We also have several other exciting pieces of work on the go which allow opportunities to get involved!  We are looking for volunteers to take part in a project looking at student engagement in enhancing college learner outcomes - exploring perspectives on the challenges and priorities for learner outcomes.  We are also looking for college and university students to contribute to a National Student-led Project on Learner Communities - the students of the QAA Student-led Project are seeking photos of your learning environment to contribute to their photo exhibition about Scotland’s learner communities. 

Another exciting opportunity, launched at the end of last year, is our new Buddying Scheme for student engagement staff across Scotland!  Sign up now if you'd like to be partnered with a sector colleague! 

In addition to the above key pieces of work, don't miss this other news featured in our December articles....

sparqs' 20th anniversary!

In addition to all of the above and all of our 'business as usual' activity such as CRT, monitoring rep diversity, officer training and institutional support, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary since sparqs was founded!  We will be marking this exciting anniversary in Autumn 2023, most likely with some sort of celebratory event with scope for both reflecting and looking forward.  Further details will be published in due course. 

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Stay in the loop!

As demonstrated above, much of our work involves opportunities for you to get involved, through working groups and projects, so please keep yourself up to date with any opportunities by reading our regular news mailings!

If you're not signed up to our mailing list, you can sign up here.

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Best wishes for a great 2023 from all of the sparqs team! 

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