29 Jun 2015

sparqs National Conference 2015

The sparqs national conference was held on Friday 29th May 2015 at the Edinburgh Conference Centre, Heriot-Watt University. We were delighted to have over 180 delegates attending from Scotland, England, and a good number of international delegates. Initial feedback shows that people found it an enjoyable and valuable day. 

You can read the 'Storify' of the event via the conference Twitter.  All of the content of the keynotes, workshops and presentations can also be viewed on our conference webpages.

Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the wide range of workshops and presentations on the programme. Special thanks to all those who delivered keynotes and facilitated workshops and presentations. The conference was an excellent showcase for the breadth and quality of student engagement work that is taking place across colleges and universities in Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.

The day began with a welcome from Eve Lewis, Head of sparqs followed by a formal opening of the conference by Professor Alice Brown, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council.

Our first keynote came from Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lincoln and Dan Derricott, the University’s Student Engagement Manager. In it they outlined the journey of change that Lincoln has taken to develop a culture of partnership with students. It was clear that this was institution-wide change with a long-term strategic approach, focusing on the empowerment of staff to engage students effectively. It was an excellent start to the day's proceedings.

Our second keynote was on working in partnership with students to create successful transitions from college to university. It was led by Liz Gunn, the Strategic Lead for the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Articulation Hub (ELRAH) together with input from Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President-elect, David McKay and Gabriel Kemp, students at Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University. Questions focused on the work required by both colleges and universities to ensure that the transition process took account of the specific needs of articulating students.

A third keynote session was planned featuring Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People. Unfortunately the session had to be cancelled at short notice due to personal circumstances, therefore an interview with Tam followed after the conference, as part of our regular 'Talking Student Engagement' series.

During the day there were two workshop sessions and two presentation sessions, the materials from which can be viewed on the workshops and presentations page. Also featured at the conference were a range of sector agency stalls and poster displays.  

Our programme of workshops and presentations captured the range and quality of student engagement work in Scotland’s colleges and universities. The themes of the sessions included:

  • Curriculum development and delivery partnerships
  • Student input to the external quality review process
  • Strategic partnerships between students’ associations and institutions
  • Faculty level representation
  • Engaging apprentices
  • Analysis of survey data to enhance the learning experience
  • International (New Zealand, Slovenia) perspectives on student engagement

As a fitting end to the day, the conference closed with the first sparqs Student Engagement Awards – see the separate Awards news article for all the details!

If you have any queries regarding anything related to the conference please contact David Scott, Institutional Support and Development Manager.

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