15 Nov 2023

sparqs' team news!

After 16 years with sparqs, we are very sorry that we will soon be losing one of our long-standing team members, Simon Varwell, as he leaves to take up an exciting new role with UHI’s students’ association, HISA. Simon is set to leave his role as Senior Development Consultant in late November 2023, to take up the post of Director of Student Engagement and Representation.

Simon previously worked for UHI Millennium Institute (the precursor to the University of the Highlands and Islands) and has been the sparqs’ consultant for UHI for many years, even being housed at UHI Inverness for a number of years before moving to be home-based. Having recently completed his MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education as well as becoming a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, this new role is an ideal fit for Simon!

Simon has been involved in many work areas within sparqs over the years, most recently he has been the lead on institutional support, working with colleagues to align our work and projects with the student engagement priorities of institutions and students’ associations. This has involved supporting Development Consultants on their institutional-facing activities and responding to common themes across the sector. Simon has also been the lead on sparqs’ wide range of staff development activities, our joint work with NUS Charity on the Developing College Students’ Associations project and our contributions to governance development. He has also been the officer to our Joint Advisory Group in recent years and is committed to sharing practice and opportunities across the sector, having interviewed many of you in our popular Talking Student Engagement series! Simon has also contributed to many rUK and international events over the years, such as RAISE, EQAF and EUA conferences and has been instrumental in various international projects, including significant work with the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) in Ireland.

Simon is hugely valued within sparqs and will be a big loss to the organisation, both professionally and personally; his knowledge and expertise will be missed, as will his puns and his excellent sparqs’ Twitter feed!

Simon's last day with sparqs will be Friday 24th November. Although we are very sad to lose him, we are delighted that he is staying within the sector and we can continue to work with him. We know that friends and colleagues across the sector will all join us in wishing Simon well in his new role. Our loss is most certainly HISA’s gain!

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