Our staff

sparqs has a team of nine 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 in Scotland, across the rest of the UK and internationally. 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.

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Senior Development Consultant:  Simon Varwell
Mobile: 07815 938966
Twitter: @sparqs_Simon
Normal work days: Monday to Thursday

Simon leads on our institutional support, working with colleagues to align our work with the student engagement prio rities of institutions and students’ associations. This involves supporting others in the sparqs team on their institutional-facing activities and responding to common themes across the sector. Simon co-ordinates the Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) which meets three times a year, and works on a number of projects, including wider staff development work, transnational student engagement, and education officer induction in colleges, among others. He has previously worked for UHI Millennium Institute (the precursor to the University of the Highlands and Islands) and Glasgow University SRC. He is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, where he was President of the Students’ Association, and is currently studying the University of Winchester’s MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education. Simon has been with sparqs since 2007 and is based in Inverness.

Simon is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - North East Scotland College and all of the UHI colleges.
Universities - UHI, Glasgow School of Art, University of Glasgow and University of St Andrews.

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Senior Development Consultant: Hannah Clarke
Hannah is currently on maternity leave, as of mid-February 2020

Hannah’s main work area is around working to support student engagement with national sector agencies, and university and college quality arrangements and policy developments.  She oversees sparqs' work around the QAA Enhancement Themes, supporting 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. Hannah 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.

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Senior Development Consultant (maternity cover): Stef Black  
Mobile: 07977 980867
Twitter: @sparqs_Stef 
Normal work days: Monday to Thursday

Stef is currently covering Hannah's post while she is on maternity leave. Her main work area is around working to support student engagement with national sector agencies, and university and college quality arrangements and policy developments.  She oversees sparqs' work around the QAA Enhancement Themes, supporting 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 as well as maintaining an overview of our work around Student Mental Health and Wellbeing, research around the National Student Survey and initiatives to tackle attainment and retention challenges 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 - Fife, Forth Valley, New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.
Universities - Dundee, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Stirling.

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Development Consultant: Justin Walker
Mobile: 07880 192722
Twitter: @sparqs_Justin
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Justin's main work areas include working with colleges on representation structures for Apprentices and students with supported education needs; working with staff training providers in the coverage of student-staff partnerships; and exploring the possibility of student reciprocal visits between colleges, a new route for student engagement in Quality Enhancement.  He also leads on sparqs’ growing involvement in Pupil Voice in Primary and Secondary schools, in partnership with Education Scotland; and liaises with QAA Scotland in relation to their annual ‘Focus On’ themes.  Justin has a rich background in educational leadership and quality management, having served as teacher, headteacher and consultant in the UK, The Gambia, and Chile. He is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield. He also holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and the MSc in Development Management from the Open University. Justin joined sparqs in August 2019.

Justin is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Ayrshire, Dundee and Angus and Newbattle Abbey College
Universities - Abertay, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon and Strathclyde

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Development Consultant: Megan Brown
Mobile: 07469 354245
Twitter: @sparqs_Megan
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Megan’s main areas of work include enhancing Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research student engagement and developing student representation models for articulating students. She also leads on sparqs’ equality, diversity and inclusion work, including supporting student engagement in Gender Action Plans and BSL Plans, and monitoring the diversity of course reps. Megan is responsible for oversight of sparqs’ National Education Officers’ Network (NEON), which meets three times a year. She is also the key contact for colleges working on Student-Led Teaching Awards. Megan is a current member of QAA UK’s Student Strategic Advisory Committee and a former member of sparqs’ University Advisory Committee. She is a graduate of The University of Edinburgh and the University of East Anglia and previously worked at Edinburgh University Students’ Association. Megan joined sparqs in September 2019.

Megan is the sparqs contact for the following institutions: 
Colleges - Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh College and West College Scotland
Universities - GCU, Aberdeen and University of the West of Scotland

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Development Consultant: Denise McCaig
Mobile: 07966 104056
Twitter: @sparqs_Denise
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Denise’s main areas of work are online training, including online Course Rep Training and the online modules which support our annual That’s Quality! training events for both colleges and universities. She leads on the ‘Student Mental Wellbeing: A Learning and Teaching Perspective’ project, oversees the Student-led Project as part of the QAA Enhancement Themes and is a member of the Themes Leader Group. Denise also looks after several data-driven projects, including a focus on student and staff engagement with data in both universities and colleges, as well as research around student-led teaching award data. Denise is a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University and has previously worked at Heriot-Watt University Student Union. She joined sparqs in January 2020 on a year’s maternity cover.

Denise is the interim contact for the following institutions: 
Colleges - City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde, Glasgow Kelvin and SRUC.
Universities - Edinburgh Napier, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, SRUC and The Open University.

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Business 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.

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Central Support Team Co-ordinator: Sarah Davidson
Mobile: 07585 969881
Normal work days: Monday to 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. 

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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 2020-21 bring a wealth of experience from their studies and course rep activity within their institutions. We are lucky to have five of our amazing 2019-20 ATs continue for the coming year, along with three fantastic new ATs.  Their biographies can be viewed 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.

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2020-21 Associate Trainers:

Clare Hunter
Clare is currently studying Careers Guidance at the University of the West of Scotland and is continuing in the role of Vice President of Student Development with the students’ association at UWS. Clare has studied at UWS for 6 years; her previous study includes BA Business and she has also completed a Masters in International Marketing Management. 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, with a particular interest around widening access and articulation. This is her fourth year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Caraleigh McKenzie-Miller
Caraleigh is in her final year of an Engineering apprenticeship, completing her work-based SVQ level 3 in Engineering Technical Support, having recently completed an HND in Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow Clyde College. She is currently a STEM Ambassador, working with children and young people to encourage them to consider STEM subjects and careers. Caraleigh has been a course rep at various points throughout her studies. This is her second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Andie Rae
Andie has recently completed her accelerated English law degree at the University of Dundee. Her passion for student representation is demonstrated through her experience as Vice President of the Dundee University Life Science Society, Vice President of Biomedical Sciences and as a Student Ambassador for the university. Andie hopes to pursue a legal career in London in the future, but is returning as an Associate Trainer for sparqs for a second year. She loves the opportunity to meet new people from a variety of places and academic backgrounds, and help them to meet their representative potential.

Irina Bogdan
Before moving to Scotland, Irina completed a Teaching Degree during which she was a course rep, and was a trainer for the Speech Therapists Association of Romania. She is now a First Class Ba Honours graduate in Fashion Management, and a student of MSc Digital Marketing at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. During her undergraduate course, she was the President of the Creative and Cultural Business Society and the Vice President of Kaim Shop for RGU Go Green. For her contribution to improving the student learning experience and her engagement with RGU’s enhancement processes, Irina was recognised with a Full Scarlet Award. She won the RGU Creative Trail 2020, and has achieved the highest level of the Scottish Innovative Student Award Programme. She has just started two new positions at RGU as Student School Officer and Student Ambassador. This is her second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer, and she feels this role will add to her already varied skills and experience. Committed to continuous learning and professional development, and with experience in various fashion projects, Irina is now the content creator of her own fashion blog.

Kirsty Turkington
Kirsty is studying Social Sciences at the University of the Highlands and Islands. She was a committed course rep for the first two years of her degree and has a long history of activism and organising. At high school, Kirsty was frequently in trouble for skipping classes to attend anti-war demos. Over summer Kirsty worked in mental health social care and was actively involved in the organisation of a Care Workers COVID-19 National Group, where she chaired and spoke at nationwide meetings (over Zoom, of course). Kirsty is passionate about empowering the student voice, and she is looking forward to passing on her representation and organising skills in her role with sparqs. This is her second year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Olga Chatzifoti
Olga is a postgraduate student in the MSc program 'Serious games and Virtual Reality' of the School of Simulation and Visualisation in the Glasgow School of Art and focuses on the design and creation of educational, interactive digital experiences. Olga holds an MSc from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece, in Geoinformatics and an Integrated Master in Architecture and Urban Planning, also from NTUA. Her first and only year so far as a student representative was in the challenging academic year of 2019-2020. Despite the unexpected circumstances, or perhaps exactly because of them, she puts great value in student representation and is determined to support other fellows to the best of her abilities. Active listening, negotiation and group building are her main areas of support. This is Olga’s first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Rachel Hinde
Rachel is studying Accounting and Finance BAH Year 3 at Inverness College, University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), after successfully completing HND Accounting. Her varied job history consists mainly of customer facing roles and redundancy from a Post Office counter position in 2017 encouraged her to enrol on an NC Business and Accounting course, updating essential skills initially to secure employment within the finance industry. She received a Student of the Year award for Business in Further Education and found a passion for the learning environment. This resulted in a new goal to continue studying to degree level with a view to a career in teaching/training. Other achievements include a distinction for an Open University access course: People, Work, and Society, and an ECDL (Electronic Computer Driving Licence). Rachel accompanied course reps to department committee meetings in her HNC year and was inspired by the way the student voice could help improve courses, present and future, while promoting positive partnerships with teaching staff. She subsequently volunteered as a course rep last year and found the role, supported by sparqs’ training, both enhanced her interpersonal skills as well as her studies. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer which she feels is valuable experience to complement her own ambitions and is eager that it will help others achieve theirs.

Vincent Waters
Vincent is a mature student, studying psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University. He is the Mental Health & Wellbeing Officer of the University Students’ Association, a newly-created post which he was asked to take on. His background is in business, where he led companies in the environmental sector since the 1990s. During that time, he served as President of his Chamber of Commerce and was active in business networks and representation bodies. Vincent has served as a Trustee on several charities, both local and national, and was responsible for relationships with Government and strategic partners for a national Scottish charity. He has mentored business start-ups, trained people in the worlds of business, politics and charities, and holds a Government appointment in the criminal justice system in Scotland. Vincent has trained course reps in his institution and is a consultant trainer in its Student Leadership Programme. This is his first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

 

Student Engagement Framework

Student Engagement Staff Network meeting

18 Nov 2020

Our Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN) will have its first full-day meeting of the 2020-21 academic year on 18th…

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