A timely update on ESPAQ (Enhancing Student Participation in Quality Assurance in Armenian HE) as the 3-year project approaches the end. sparqs has been a key partner in the EU Tempus project, which has been working to develop and embed student engagement in Armenian higher education policy processes
sparqs, together with the European Students’ Union has been responsible for one of the key project work packages – raising awareness, training, and the production of a handbook on student engagement. We have also contributed heavily to the majority of the other work packages. Specifically, we have:
- Led an awareness raising conference in Armenia for around 80 students and staff in the autumn of 2015, together with running individual consultancy sessions with each of the participating Armenian universities.
- Led two training weeks with students in Armenia, developing their knowledge and understanding of engagement in QA processes and giving them the skills to contribute effectively.
- Contributed to three study visits of Armenian students to the European partner institutions, helping to provide an understanding of how quality arrangements work in the respective countries whilst also drawing out the similarities, and their alignment with the European Standards and Guidelines (ESGs).
- Facilitated a session on the project at the sparqs conference in March 2017.
As the end of the project approaches, we are currently in the final stages of the development of the student handbook, planning a study visit of Armenian students to Scotland and organising our contribution to the final dissemination conference in Yerevan in November 2017.
The principal outcomes of the project are now within reach; a Memorandum of Understanding on student involvement in quality processes has been developed between the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Education and Science, the Armenian Quality Assurance Agency, the Armenian National Students’ Association and the five partner universities. Additionally, the development of a student experts pool is in the process of being established, which will provide input to the quality review processes in Armenia. The project has been a great learning experience in terms of educational culture differences and partners working across a range of time zones.
The project has enabled Armenian students to become immersed in a range of activities in Armenia and in other European countries which have broadened their knowledge of how quality systems have developed and been put into practice. It has been a catalyst for change, providing training for students and developing a team of student experts who can take responsibility for student input to both internal and external review.