sparqs' News - 2023

sparqs' team news! 15 Nov 2023

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… Read More

A celebration of #sparqs20years 15 Nov 2023

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 20th birthday celebration event on the evening of Thursday 5th October 2023 ~ #sparqs20years The event reflected on and celebrated the progress Scotland has made over the last 20 years in student… Read More

Congratulations to our 2023 Student Engagement Award-winners! 15 Nov 2023

Congratulations to all of our Student Engagement Award-winners and thanks to everyone who joined us on Thursday 5th October 2023 for the Awards ceremony, which took place at our 20th birthday celebration event! #sparqs20years The Awards ceremony was superbly hosted by Sir Andrew Cubie,… Read More

Launch of the new Student Learning Experience model 15 Nov 2023

Launched at the sparqs' 20th birthday event on Thursday 5th October 2023, we are delighted to share our new Student Learning Experience model, developed as part of the single tertiary approach to quality for colleges and universities. The new model seeks… Read More

Creating and reviewing student engagement roles: launching our new resource! 15 Nov 2023

sparqs is pleased to publish a new resource, Creating and reviewing student engagement roles, to accompany the Professional Standards Framework for Student Engagement (PSFSE). The new resource is designed to support those seeking to create and review posts relating to student engagement in… Read More

Reminder re our next SESN and NEON network meetings 15 Nov 2023

A reminder about our next SESN and NEON meetings coming up soon..... SESN (Student Engagement Staff Network) The next meeting is taking place on Wednesday 29th November 2023, from 10.00am to 1.00pm via Zoom. See the event booking page to register to attend. The agenda will follow… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Erica Russell-Hensens 15 Nov 2023

In this interview, we talk to Erica Russell-Hensens, Deputy Director for Student Interests, Access and Pathways at the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). After a sabbatical term of office at (what became) Queen Margaret University, Erica worked for two years at… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Libby Gill 15 Nov 2023

In this interview, we talk to Libby Gill, Student Partnership Development Officer at Robert Gordon University (RGU). They began this post in April 2023, following a range of roles in heritage and education, including as an English language teacher. A… Read More

sparqs' team news! 21 Sep 2023

As many of you may know, Stef Black has been seconded from sparqs to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) for the past year, in the role of Senior Policy Officer. Stef has recently made the decision to continue in her… Read More

Return of the Buddy Scheme! 21 Sep 2023

Following the successful pilot of sparqs’ Buddy Scheme, which ran from January to June 2023 (you can read more about it in our June article), we are happy to announce the opening of the Buddy Scheme for 2023-24. As a… Read More

That’s Quality! 2023 event round-up 21 Sep 2023

A round-up from our annual That’s Quality! induction event for new college and university student officers and those who support them. The event is designed to help new officers engage in quality processes at the institutional and national level. The 2023… Read More

Next SESN meetings on 5th October and 29th November 2023 21 Sep 2023

After our first successful Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) meeting for this academic year, registrations are now open for the following two meetings, on Thursday 5th October 2023 (joint, in-person, planning meeting with NEON and JAG, as previously advertised) and… Read More

Next NEON meetings on 5th October and 6th December 2023 21 Sep 2023

After our first successful National Education Officers Network (NEON) meeting for this academic year, registrations are now open for the following two meetings, on Thursday 5th October 2023 (joint, in-person, planning meeting with SESN and JAG, as previously advertised) and a regular NEON meeting… Read More

College student board member induction resources 21 Sep 2023

The annual induction for student members of college boards of management took place on 31st August and 1st September 2023, and sparqs was involved in leading the event with colleagues from NUS Scotland and the College Development Network. Covering the… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Douglas Blackstock 21 Sep 2023

In this interview, we talk to Douglas Blackstock, President of ENQA (the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education). He has held various roles, including six years as Chief Executive during nearly twenty years at the Quality Assurance Agency… Read More

sparqs' 2023-24 Course Rep Training is open for bookings! 18 Aug 2023

Bookings are now open for Course Rep Training during 2023-24 ....for delivery from week beginning Monday 18th September 2023 onwards. All the information you need is on our main CRT webpage. Please read the booking guidance before arranging your sessions and… Read More

Meet our Associate Trainer team for 2023-24 18 Aug 2023

We are delighted to introduce our excellent team of student Associate Trainers (ATs) for the coming academic year. The team includes nine newly-recruited trainers and seven returners from previous years! The team will begin delivering Introductory Course Rep Training (part two)… Read More

sparqs' 2023 Student Engagement Awards shortlists! 18 Aug 2023

We are delighted to announce the shortlisted nominations in sparqs’ 2023 Student Engagement Awards! Our biennial awards are back, and were open for nominations in springtime of this year. We’re grateful to everyone who submitted, and our judges – drawn from our Joint Advisory… Read More

Register to join us in celebrating 20 years of sparqs! 18 Aug 2023

Join us at SKYbar in Edinburgh on Thursday 5th October 2023 (6-8pm) for our 20th birthday celebration event! Our 20th birthday party will reflect on, and celebrate, the progress Scotland has made over the last 20 years in student engagement. Bringing… Read More

The first SESN meetings of 2023-24 are open to book! 18 Aug 2023

It's nearly time for our first Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) online meeting of 2023-24, which will be followed the next again month, by an in-person, joint meeting with NEON and JAG colleagues!  SESN is a professional network for staff in colleges,… Read More

The first NEON meetings of 2023-24 are open to book! 18 Aug 2023

It's nearly time for our first National Education Officers' Network (NEON) online meeting of 2023-24, which will be followed the next again month, by an in-person, joint meeting with SESN and JAG colleagues!  The network provides an opportunity for officers from both colleges… Read More

In memory of Professor Norman Sharp O.B.E. 18 Aug 2023

The team at sparqs were very saddened to receive news of the death of Professor Norman Sharp O.B.E. in June 2023.  As the first Director of QAA Scotland, Norman was one of the architects of the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework,… Read More

sparqs' support to student officers for 2023-24 18 Aug 2023

During July each year, we send welcome emails to new and returning student officers with an education remit.  The aim is to highlight sparqs' support, relevant resources and forthcoming events that would be useful as part of student officers' induction, such… Read More

QAA Scotland is seeking student reps for SHEEC 18 Aug 2023

QAA Scotland has recently launched a nomination process to appoint three new student representatives to SHEEC (Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee) for 2023-24. Details of the nominations process and how to apply online can be found on the QAA website.  Applications… Read More

College student board member training open for bookings 18 Aug 2023

Registration is open for the two-day online training for student members of college boards of management, which is coming soon! This annual training is part of the College Development Network’s Governance Development Programme, and covers the role of student members of… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Dr Claire Carney 18 Aug 2023

In this interview, we talk to Dr Claire Carney PFHEA, Vice Principal (Student Experience) with City of Glasgow College. She has wide experience in education leadership, including previously as Associate Vice Principal Education at the University of the West of… Read More

Nine top tips for the sparqs’ Student Engagement Awards: closing 30th June! 19 Jun 2023

It’s now less than two weeks until the deadline for nominations for sparqs’ Student Engagement Awards, held to celebrate our twentieth birthday as an agency.  It's not too late to make a submission.... by 10.00am on Friday 30th June!  So, in… Read More

Happy buddies! 06 Jun 2023

In January 2023, sparqs launched the Buddy Scheme, aimed at pairing practitioners in student engagement across institutions and students’ associations, to give them the opportunity to discuss and have a sounding board external to their own institution. Luckily, we received… Read More

Still time to submit to our 2023 Student Engagement Awards! 06 Jun 2023

2023 sees 20 years since sparqs was founded, and we are delighted to be celebrating with a special event… and the return of our Student Engagement Awards! At a time of considerable change in our sector, the voice of students in… Read More

Thanks and farewell to two of our Trustees 06 Jun 2023

Following over six years of valued support, we recently wished farewell to two of our Trustees, Sabina Strachan and Gillian Plunkett.  Both Sabina and Gillian took up their Trustee roles in early 2017 and were an invaluable source of support and… Read More

That's Quality! 2023 is still open to book ...don't miss out! 06 Jun 2023

There's still time to register for our annual That's Quality! programme for student officers and students’ association staff, which begins on 6th July....  It's a valuable opportunity and we urge students' associations to get their officers signed up! The 2023 event is… Read More

Launch of our 2023 Student Engagement Awards and 20th birthday celebrations! 03 May 2023

2023 sees 20 years since sparqs was founded, and we are delighted to be celebrating with a special event… and the return of our Student Engagement Awards! At a time of considerable change in our sector, the voice of students in… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Manuel João Costa 03 May 2023

In this interview, we talk to Manuel João Costa, Pro-Rector for Student Affairs and Pedagogical Innovation at the University of Minho (UMinho), in Portugal. With a background in biochemistry, he has been at the University of Minho since 2004. He… Read More

Book now for our That's Quality! 2023 event! 03 May 2023

We are pleased to announce that our annual That's Quality! programme for student officers and students’ association staff is now open for bookings! The 2023 event is split into three parts: The first part of That’s Quality! is a half-day, sector-specific online… Read More

Our updated education officer induction resource for colleges and universities 03 May 2023

sparqs’ toolkit for developing an induction for students’ association education officers has been updated and republished to support induction for summer 2023. Aimed at students’ association staff and others who support education officer induction, this year’s update builds on past college-specific iterations of… Read More

Student engagement in college learner outcomes 03 May 2023

Students and staff from across the college sector are working with sparqs to explore partnership initiatives in response to priorities on attainment, retention and other learner outcomes. Drawing on key sector reports, college KPIs, students’ association input and other data, the… Read More

Participation in QAA’s International Enhancement Conference 03 May 2023

Registration is open for QAA Scotland's 5th International Enhancement Conference, and sparqs will be taking part! This hybrid event takes place on 14th and 15th June 2023 at Glasgow Caledonian University with online options, and registration is open now. Students and… Read More

sparqs is recruiting student Associate Trainers for 2023-24 29 Mar 2023

sparqs 2023-24 Associate Trainer recruitment is open for applications - deadline 9am, Wednesday 3rd May 2023! Calling all student reps! Do you have experience as a course/apprentice or other representative role? Will you be a student or apprentice during 2023-24? ....if so, and you… Read More

Course Rep Training – planning for 2023-24 29 Mar 2023

This article is a prompt for Course Rep Training Organisers (Representation Co-ordinators and those with similar remits in colleges and universities across Scotland) to consider your plans for delivering Course Rep Training (CRT) during 2023-24, if you haven’t already done… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Kevin McStravock 29 Mar 2023

In this interview, we talk to Kevin McStravock, who is Lead Policy Officer (Devolved Nations and Europe) with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). A graduate of Ulster University (UU), he has held various roles in the sector,… Read More

Update on the development of Student Learning Experience model 27 Feb 2023

Following on from previous articles about our ongoing work to redevelop the Student Learning Experience, Phase 1 of the project is now complete. From September to January, sparqs worked with students to identify the principles of the Student Learning Experience… Read More

Shaping sparqs’ strategy: a combined meeting of JAG, NEON and SESN 27 Feb 2023

sparqs’ three stakeholder forums will gather in May for an important event to begin steps towards sparqs’ next strategic plan. On Thursday 4th May 2023 sparqs’ Joint Advisory Group (JAG), National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) and Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) and members of our Trustee… Read More

New induction guide for academic representation co-ordinators 27 Feb 2023

sparqs has published a new resource to support new members of staff in academic representation and student engagement roles. Our induction guide for Academic Representation Co-ordinators is aimed at new colleagues within students’ associations or institutions who have responsibilities relating to… Read More

sparqs’ paper presented at prestigious European conference 27 Feb 2023

sparqs colleagues Megan Brown and Simon Varwell recently presented a paper in Bilbao, Spain, at the European University Association’s Learning and Teaching Forum, an annual conference for staff and students from across Europe to discuss developments in learning and teaching.… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with John O'Hara 27 Feb 2023

In this interview, we talk to John O’Hara, Senior Learner Engagement Officer at New College Lanarkshire (NCL). John’s college life began as a hairdressing student at Coatbridge College, studying HNC Hairdressing and HND Make up Artistry, then completing his studies… Read More

Welcome to our new Trustees! 27 Feb 2023

We are delighted to introduce four new members to the sparqs’ Trustee Board, Beate Treml, Emilia Todorova, Campbell Powrie and Dr Dee Bird. They bring a wide range of expertise and experience to the Board and we look forward to… Read More

Our next NEON meeting is open to book - 9th March 2023 24 Jan 2023

Our next National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday 9th March 2023 and is now open to book!  It will take place online via Zoom, from 10.00am until 1.00pm.  See the event booking page for further details and to register to… Read More

The year ahead and a recap of our December articles! 24 Jan 2023

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… Read More

Briefings on quality arrangements for colleges and universities 2022-2024 24 Jan 2023

As the sector moves towards a joint approach to quality, for the next two academic years (2022-23 and 2023-24) colleges and universities will still carry out separate quality arrangements. sparqs continues to support institutions in ensuring students are engaged in these… Read More

'Talking Student Engagement' Interview with Chase Greenfield 24 Jan 2023

In this interview, we talk to Chase Greenfield, Academic Representation Coordinator at the University of St Andrews Students’ Association, where he has worked since August 2021. Previously, he worked in the USA as the Student Engagement Coordinator at Montana State… Read More

Our next SESN meeting is open to book - 2nd March 2023 24 Jan 2023

Our next Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday 2nd March 2023 and is now open to book!  It will take place online via Zoom, from 10.00am until 1.00pm.  See the event booking page for further details and to register to… Read More

Updated “outduction” toolkit for supporting education officers 24 Jan 2023

Our toolkit to support the future careers of education officers in students’ associations has been updated for 2023’s departing officers. Developed in partnership with NUS Charity, the College Development Network and Advance HE, the toolkit is aimed at those who… Read More

Have photos of your learning space? Contribute to the National Student-led Project on Learner Communities 24 Jan 2023

Calling all students! ....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. The Student-led Project is part of QAA Scotland’s Enhancement Themes, a core element of Scotland’s… Read More

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Student Engagement Framework

National Education Officers' Network meeting

21 Mar 2024

This meeting of sparqs’ National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) continues our series of meetings for academic year 2023-24. …

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Student Engagement Staff Network meeting

19 Mar 2024

This meeting of our Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) for academic year 2023-24 continues our series of half-day events for…

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