Our staff

sparqs has a team of ten staff members, most of whom are based in our main office in Edinburgh (hosted by NUS Scotland), with one staff member based in Inverness.

We also employ a number of Associate Trainers each year on a part-time basis, a team of students who mainly deliver course rep training for us.

If you wish to contact any of our team, please call the sparqs office on 0131 622 6599 or by the mobile numbers listed. 

To email a member of staff use the following format: firstname.surname@sparqs.ac.uk


Main staff team

Director:  Eve Lewis 
Mobile: 07813 014679

As Director of sparqs, Eve is responsible for managing the agency on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. She provides strategic direction and management support to the sparqs team, and maintains close links with other sector agencies both at home and abroad. Eve took up her post within sparqs in July 2010. Previously, she was Education and Welfare Manager at Heriot-Watt University Students’ Association for eighteen years, managing their non-commercial activities including their extensive work on academic representation.


Development Consultant:  Simon Varwell
Mobile: 07815 938966
Normal work days: Monday to Thursday

Simon works mainly within our first two strategic aims. His current projects include our work on student engagement in transnational education and our recently completed resource on online & distance learning, and two projects on engaging taught and research postgraduates. He is developing a forthcoming combined toolkit on course rep systems, and is responsible for oversight of our university Annual Support Visits and our Academic Representation Co-ordinators’ network. In addition, he works with the College Development Network and NUS Scotland on college board member inductions, and is involved in a number of sparqs’ international projects, such as the NStEP project in Ireland. He is also responsible for our annual Associate Trainer residential training, our Twitter content and Talking Student Engagement interview series. He is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, where he was President of the Students’ Association, and has previously worked for UHI Millennium Institute (the precursor to the University of the Highlands and Islands) and Glasgow University SRC. Simon has been with sparqs since 2007 and is based in Inverness.

Simon is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - all of the UHI colleges and North East Scotland College
Universities - RGU, Aberdeen, The Open University and UHI.


Development Consultant: Morven Stewart
Mobile: 07469 354246
Normal work days: Monday to Wednesday

Morven is a previous sparqs Associate Trainer, having joined us in 2013-14 while studying at Glasgow School of Art. She went on to join the main staff team in 2016, initially to complete a number of projects, including revising our Course Rep Training materials for supported education students and developing and implementing training for Apprentice Reps. Morven's main work areas are around lead reps, the pupil voice in schools and our work with apprentices, working with both colleges and employers.

Morven is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Ayrshire, Glasgow Clyde and Glasgow Kelvin.
Universities - GCU, Glasgow School of Art, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Strathclyde.


Development Consultant: Lindsay Isaacs
Mobile: 07469 354245
Normal work days: Monday to Thursday 

Lindsay’s main work areas include overseeing sparqs' Course Rep Training provision, supporting those involved in our Institutional Associate Trainer scheme, recruitment of sparqs' Associate Trainer team, staff development programmes, and working on the ongoing review of Professional Standards for lecturers in Scotland’s colleges. She is also leading on two equality and diversity projects – the first is a joint project with NUS Scotland on student engagement in Gender Action Plans, and the second is a pilot project to support institutions to monitor the diversity of their course reps. Lindsay is also the lead on the 2019 sparqs Conference and college Annual Support Visits.  She is a graduate of The University of Edinburgh and University of Stirling, and she joined sparqs in November 2016.

Lindsay is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Borders, City of Glasgow, Dundee & Angus, Fife and SRUC.
Universities - Edinburgh Napier, QMU, SRUC and University of Glasgow.


Development Consultant: Stef Black 
Mobile: 07977 980867
Normal work days: Monday-Thursday

Stef’s main areas of work include Student Partnership Agreements, enhancing engagement with data in colleges and universities, and supporting developments in Course Rep Training and enhancements in online training. She oversees the Student-led Project work around the QAA Enhancement Themes. Her other areas of work include the Scottish Government College Improvement Project on attainment and retention, developments in the role of students in Institution-led Review and developments in the role of School/Faculty Officers in universities, as well as senior/lead reps in colleges. Stef is a graduate of Bangor University, Wales and has previously worked at University of Glasgow SRC and University of Stirling Students’ Union. She joined sparqs in March 2017.

Stef is the sparqs contact for the following institutions: Colleges - Dumfries & Galloway, New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. Universities - Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and UWS.


Development Consultant: Steph Kirkham 
Mobile: 07880 192722

Steph’s main work area is around working to support student engagement with national sector agencies, university and college quality arrangements and policy developments. She oversees sparqs' work around the QAA Enhancement Themes, supports institutions regarding their student engagement with Enhancement-led Institutional Review and How Good is Our College? quality arrangements as well as working with the sector on developments with the new college quality arrangements. She is also responsible for our annual That’s Quality! residential training events for both university and college officers. Steph is a graduate of The University of Southampton and joined sparqs in November 2017, on a fixed term contract providing maternity cover.

Steph is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Edinburgh College, Forth Valley, Newbattle Abbey and West College Scotland
Universities - Abertay, Dundee, St Andrews and Stirling


Development Consultant: Hannah Clarke 
(Please note that Hannah is currently on maternity leave, as of December 2o17.  Her work areas are mainly being covered by Steph Kirkham) 

Hannah’s main work area is around working to support student engagement with national sector agencies, and university and college quality arrangements.  She oversees sparqs' work around the QAA Enhancement Themes and is the lead within sparqs on Student Partnership Agreements.  She previously worked in college articulation at Glasgow Caledonian University and in student support services at the University of St Andrews. She is a graduate of the University of St Andrews and the University of London. Hannah joined sparqs in June 2014.


Central Support Team Manager: Nicola McIntosh
M0bile: 07785 626159
Normal work days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Nicola manages the Central Support Team, which involves ensuring everything in the office runs efficiently and effectively. She also monitors the finances and deals with recruitment and human resources. Prior to sparqs, Nicola has worked in the finance sector and the civil service. She has worked with sparqs since 2006.


Central Support Team Co-ordinator: Sarah Davidson
Mobile: 07585 969881
Normal work days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Sarah is responsible for the sparqs Course Representative Training bookings system. Managing events and processing finances are also other key areas of her role. Before joining sparqs, Sarah worked in the finance sector. She is our longest serving employee, having been with sparqs since its inception in 2003. 


Communications Co-ordinator: Ali McDade
Mobile: 07585 969882

Ali’s main duties include data management and communications, including sparqs publications and maintenance of the sparqs website. She is also responsible for co-ordinating attendance at key sector meetings for both sparqs and NUS Scotland. Ali is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University and her background is in learning and development co-ordination and project co-ordination. She joined sparqs in November 2010.


Associate Trainers

Our team of Associate Trainers for 2018-19 have a wealth of experience from their studies and course rep activity within their institutions.  We were delighted that four of the team continued as ATs for an additional year.  The 2018-19 team's biographies are below.  

You can find out more here about the Associate Trainer scheme generally and how it works.

To email an Associate Trainer use the following format: firstname.surname@sparqs.ac.uk (with the exception of Leo Siebert, who uses an NUS email address - leo.siebert@nus-scotland.org.uk)


Clare Hunter
Clare is progressing to PhD study in 2018, following completion of her Masters in International Marketing Management with The Univeristy of the West of Scotland. She was a course rep for two years during her degree and was also a course rep at college when she studied Architectural Technology to degree level. She aspires to go into lecturing and feels this opportunity will add to her already varied skills and employment experience. Clare has also worked as a student guide, a student mentor and as a registry assistant so she is very student orientated. This is her second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Mel Kinkead
Mel is in her fourth year of Psychology (BSc) at the University of the West of Scotland. She has been a course rep since the beginning of the course. She has run her own business for 10+yrs and is an active volunteer with a charity, which has allowed her to gain numerous skills in training. She sees the major role student reps play in engagement of students and believes the training of student reps is essential to this process. With many different employment avenues open with a psychology degree, Mel is confident being an Associate Trainer will equip her with many skills that will benefit her in her future employment. This is Mel's second year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs.

Leo Siebert
Leo is currently in his honours year for a BA (Honours) in Marketing at the University of Strathclyde. He is originally from Germany and moved to Scotland to study. He has been a course representative for two years, for classes ranging from 20 to 400 students. Leo is also an NUS committee member within the LGBT+ and Trans campaigns. This is his second year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs.

Gary Donaldson
Gary has recently completed a BA (Honours) in Marketing Management with Consumer Studies at Edinburgh Napier University. He will continue to attend the university to complete an MSc in Intercultural Business Communication with TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). Previous to his undergrad, he studied an HNC in Advertising and PR at Dundee and Angus College where he very much relished his course rep duties. Having studied at both college and university, and as a mature student, he has experience of the differences/similarities of each. Gary enjoys meeting new people and would like to work in the education/education-related sector when he graduates and is delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with sparqs. This is Gary's second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Stewart Kirkland
Stewart has completed a Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) course at Forth Valley College and will commence his BSc (Honours) Degreee in Psychology at Edinburgh Napier University in 2018. Whilst heavily involved as a class rep at college he was also elected as the Forth Valley Mature Students Officer. He has represented his college when involved with the “Choices For Life” initiative in conjunction with Police Scotland and the Army. As a volunteer caseworker with a veterans charity, SSAFA, he gives some of his free time to this cause. He also volunteered with the 2018 Special Olympics team at Stirling University and enjoys supporting students in all aspects of development. In a previous career he spent 13 years with the Royal Air Force, serving in Scotland but also in Germany, Sardinia and Sicily. Before returning to full-time academic study Stewart also had a successful career with Police Scotland, “retiring” in 2017 having served in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Central Scotland as a Police Inspector. He hopes this experience will enhance his current level of knowledge and assist in his aspiration to become a lecturer. This is his first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Emily Magkourilou
Emily is currently in her fifth year of an MSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. She has been a course rep for each year of her studies apart from her second year when she was an Erasmus student at the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao. She is passionate about active citizenship and direct democracy and is confident that her role within sparqs will allow her to share and expand her enthusiasm. This is her first year as a sqarqs Associate Trainer. 

Francesca Penney 
Francesca has just finished a Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) course in order to return to education after having worked in the video games industry for over a decade. She was a course representative for the SWAP course and is now beginning study at the University of Glasgow studying Politics and Sociology, with the aim of becoming a lecturer eventually, having been inspired by her lecturers during her year with SWAP. Francesca hopes to work with adults returning to education and is looking forward to working with sparqs. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Julia Johnstone 
Julia is in her second year of studying a BA (Honours) degree in Fine Art Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art. She was the Class Representative for her first year. Prior to this she studied at Tramway Visual Arts Studio where she completed the Portfolio Course in 2017. This is Julia's first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Silvia Ramos 
Silvia is going into her fourth year in Translation and Interpreting (French and German) at Heriot-Watt University. She has been a course rep for two years and will continue as a rep during her last year of university. She aspires to go into community interpreting and feels this opportunity will add to her skills and employment experience. Silvia is very student oriented, having also worked as a student ambassador, doing university tours on open days, helping students decide where to study and helping with the clearing process. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Caitlyn Rose
Caitlyn has just finished sixth year at Braeview Academy in Dundee and is heading to University of Dundee to commence a BA Hons Degree in History in September 2018. Caitlyn worked with sparqs over her fifth and sixth year at school as part of the pupil council and was heavily involved in the pilot project for the Pupil Voice. She presented with her peers and depute head teacher at the sparqs conference in 2017 and now we are delighted that she has joined us to become our very first Pupil Voice Associate Trainer. Her role will involve accompanying a sparqs Development Consultant to go out and deliver training to pupil reps in each of our participating schools.

Student Engagement Framework

sparqs Conference: Student Engagement for All

28 Mar 2019

Registration is now open for the sparqs' conference ~ Student Engagement for All ~ taking place…