Enhancement Themes

Current Enhancement Theme: Student Transitions

The Enhancement Themes are a key component of the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework. The Themes aim to enhance the student learning experience in universities by focusing on particular areas for development in turn and producing helpful resources for students and staff. Throughout each Theme, staff and students across Scotland’s universities are encouraged to work together to explore new and innovative ideas to enhance teaching and learning.

Student Transitions

For the next three years (until June 2017) the new Enhancement Theme is called Student Transitions. The new Theme will take a wide-ranging view of the student journey through higher education.

As part of this, universities are likely to do work around:

  • The transition from school or college to university and the first year experience.
  • Considering the experience away from the student’s normal place of study through an international exchange or work placements and the transition before and after these experiences.
  • The transition into further study and the postgraduate student experience (both taught and research opportunities).
  • And finally the end of study where students prepare to graduate and enter into the workplace.

sparqs will be working with QAA Scotland for the duration of the new Theme to support students’ associations and encourage sector-wide student involvement in the Themes. We are confident that by making their involvement as relevant as possible to their objectives we will increase student engagement in the Enhancement Themes. We hope to support more projects led by students and students’ associations, and perhaps even projects involving collaboration between students at different institutions.

Over Summer 2014 sparqs visited students’ associations to talk to student officers on how they can use the Theme to support their campaigns and work over the year in regards to learning and teaching. The feedback was very positive, and student officers are enthusiastic to integrate the Themes into their work. In particular, a large proportion of officers expressed interest in the following areas of work, which may fit well into the current Theme:

  • Work on the experience of incoming international students and, in particular, their better integration into campus life, including the development of more appropriate representation systems.
  • Looking at the experiences of students coming to university from college, whether through established articulation routes or otherwise, and working to improve that experience.
  • Working to increase the number of students undertaking study abroad, and improving the guidance and support offered to these students whilst abroad.
  • Enhancing the representation of postgraduate students, particularly taught postgraduates whose courses are frequently very short.

On 28th October 2014 we held an event on the new Theme, Student Transitions.  The event was a chance to learn more about the Theme, discuss ideas and create plans for collaborative projects around the Theme. It also looked at how attendees can help shape their institutions' plans for the Theme, as well as national plans which are imminent.

Click here for further information and materials from the event.

Student Transitions Leaflet

We have also worked with QAA Scotland to produce a  leaflet to help students learn more about how to use the new Theme to enhance the quality of learning and teaching at their university.

For more information on the Themes in general, visit QAA Scotland's Enhancement Themes website at www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk or contact Hannah Clarke, sparqs Development Consultant.


Student Network

To help students engage with the Enhancement Themes, we help support the Enhancement Themes Student Network, which brings together students from across Scotland who are working on the Theme. The first meeting of the Student Network for the new Theme took place on 25th November 2014 and sparqs have continued to help support the Student Network with their work on national projects.

You can view the Student Network’s presentation at the 2014 Annual Enhancement Themes Conference.

The Enhancement Themes website contains a huge range of resources, including presentations, papers and other materials that have been produced under each theme.


Developing and Supporting the Curriculum

The previous Enhancement Theme, which ran over three years (2011-2014),  was called Developing and Supporting the Curriculum. It looked at three broad questions:

  1. How is the curriculum, in its broadest sense, shaped and delivered?
  2. Who is it for - and how is the student body changing?
  3. What support is required for staff?

sparqs was hugely involved in ensuring student engagement in the theme. There is a great deal of information on the student perspective in a paper written by NUS Scotland entitled Developing and Supporting the Curriculum: Student perspectives on the changes and developments in higher education.

Student Engagement Framework

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