April 2015 marked a first for Scotland’s college sector, with thirteen colleges participating in a trial run of a survey that it is hoped will eventually go Scotland-wide. This is the first time the college sector has asked the same questions at the same time to students across multiple colleges. This is really significant, as it is the first step on the road to students’ associations having access to robust, nationally comparable data.
The 2015 ‘pre-pilot’ as this test run of the Student Satisfaction & Engagement Survey (SSES) is called, will only be releasing data within the institution carrying it out, with the following year’s data likely to be the first to go public. The questions aim to promote learner engagement and quality within institutions, and will be a vital tool for students’ associations to engage with. There are numerous examples from around the sector of students’ associations using data to make a difference, and we are really excited to see how college students’ associations use this.
From highlighting examples of excellent teaching and learning, to finding where the students’ association should focus its efforts on improving learner engagement, there will be a huge amount of applications for the data that comes out of SSES.
To support college students’ associations to promote participation in the survey and, crucially, to use the data to work for change, sparqs held an event on Tuesday 31st March 2015. The event drew on the experience of sparqs and NUS’ work to date in this field, and provided practical examples of how students’ associations can work with their institutions to help boost survey participation and, most importantly, how to make best use of the data gathered. Seamus Spencer from the Scottish Funding Council gave a short keynote presentation about this project's importance nationally.
The event was open to college student officers and staff, and provided a great opportunity to get together and plan before the survey launched.
If you have any queries, please get in touch with Phil McGuinness, sparqs Development Advisor - firstname.lastname@example.org