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
(she/her)
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 (he/him)
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 and projects with the student engagement priorities of institutions and students’ associations. This involves supporting Development Consultants on their institutional-facing activities and responding to common themes across the sector. Simon leads on sparqs’ wide range of staff development activities, our joint work with NUS Charity on the Developing College Students’ Associations project and our contributions to governance development, and he is the officer to our Joint Advisory Group. 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 Politics and International Relations graduate of the University of Aberdeen, where he was President of the Students’ Association in 2000-2001, and in 2021 he completed the University of Winchester’s postgraduate 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 - all of the UHI colleges.
Universities - UHI, Glasgow School of Art and University of St Andrews.

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Development Consultant: Stef Black (she/her)
Mobile: 07977 980867
Twitter: @sparqs_Stef 
Normal work days:  Monday (AM only), Tuesday to Thursday (full days), Friday (AM only)

Stef leads on sparqs’ work around student engagement with national sector agencies, learning, teaching, and quality, as well as sector policy developments. She oversees sparqs' work in supporting institutions regarding their student engagement with reviews and quality arrangements, as well as working with the sector on developments in those areas, such as the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability. She is responsible for our annual That’s Quality! residential training events for both university and college officers. She leads on our work around Student Mental Health and Wellbeing and is a member of the Scottish Government Student Mental Health and Wellbeing working group. Stef is a graduate of Bangor University, Wales and has previously worked at University of Glasgow SRC and University of Stirling Students’ Union. In August 2022, she was appointed as an External Trustee at Bangor University Students' Union – Undeb Bangor. She joined sparqs in March 2017.

Stef is the sparqs contact for the following institutions:
Colleges - Forth Valley
Universities - Stirling

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Development Consultant: Megan Brown (she/her)
Mobile: 07469 354245
Twitter: @sparqs_Megan
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Megan’s main area of work is supporting students to engage in national policy developments in learning and teaching, most recently the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability and the SQA and Education Scotland Review. She is the sparqs' lead for the QAA Scotland Enhancement Themes, including co-delivery of the Student-led Project alongside QAA. Megan oversees sparqs’ equality, diversity and inclusion work, including specific remit for supporting student engagement in BSL Plans and working with the sector to develop effective student engagement for articulating students. She is also responsible for supporting sector projects related to microcredentials and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Megan is a former member of QAA UK’s Student Strategic Advisory Committee and sparqs’ University Advisory Group. 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 and SRUC.
Universities - Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, SRUC and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

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Development Consultant: Justin Walker (he/him)
Mobile: 07880 192722
Twitter: @sparqs_Justin
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Justin is heavily involved in Course Rep Training, including the development and dissemination of our introductory training materials. He also leads the training and preparation of our team of Associate Trainers. He has resumed our project related to Apprentice Voice, exploring representational structures for apprentices and work-based learners. Justin also coordinates sparqs’ support for the work of SQA, helping college students contribute to SQA decision-making, including decisions made in response to the circumstances of the pandemic. He also analyses the anonymous data we receive from course reps within our project Monitoring the Diversity of Course Reps, and continues to review our communications for course reps that were initiated at the start of the pandemic. He is also developing a set of metrics to monitor the progress of the Developing College Students Associations project, and liaises with sector partners in relation to Learning for and through Sustainability.  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 - New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.
Universities - Abertay, Robert Gordon and Heriot-Watt.

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Development Consultant: Gloria Laurini (she/her)
Mobile:  07513 712586
Twitter: @sparqs_Gloria
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Gloria’s work areas focus on supporting all Scottish institutions and students’ associations in keeping up-to-date with the current quality arrangements for the sector; delivering sessions on joint strategy to pilot institutions within the framework of the Developing Colleges Students’ Associations project; revising the current training available for the Course Reps in Supported Education, and co-ordinating the Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN), which is currently meeting monthly to provide regular support to staff while the sector recovers from the impact of the pandemic. She has a background in student engagement in colleges, with focus on representation structures, in the capacity of Student Engagement Co-ordinator within Fife College Students’ Association. Gloria completed the MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education at the University of Winchester in 2021. Previously she worked as a trainer, delivering transferrable skills courses, mainly in the private sector, and has a degree in English and German translation and interpretation. Gloria started working for sparqs in September 2021.

Gloria is the sparqs contact for the following institutions: 
Colleges - City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde, Glasgow Kelvin, West College Scotland and Dundee & Angus
Universities - GCU, Strathclyde and QMU

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Development Consultant: Patrycja Mitrut (she/her)
Mobile:  07966 104056
Twitter: @sparqs_Patrycja
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Patrycja leads on sparqs PGT and PGR provision, projects relating to equitable practices and widening participation as well as supporting institutions with strategic planning and enhancement activities. She convenes The National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) and leads on the creation of a National Standard for Online and Blended Learning alongside the Scottish Funding Council and Jisc. Patrycja also leads on our Managing the Diversity of Course Reps project and works with QAA Scotland on an Anti-Racism Curriculum Project as well as the Student-led Project under the umbrella of Scotland’s Enhancement Themes work. Patrycja is due to graduate this summer with an MSc in Digital Education from The University of Edinburgh. Prior to her current role she worked at The University of Edinburgh and at the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences. She also has experience managing projects in the private sector and co-ordinated educational activities at Georgia’s Ministry of Education. Patrycja joined sparqs in October 2021.

Patrycja is the sparqs contact for the following institutions: 
Colleges: Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Fife, North East Scotland College and Newbattle Abbey
Universities: Edinburgh Napier, UWS and The OU

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Business Manager: Nicola Cameron (nee McIntosh) (she/her)
Mobile: 07785 626159
Normal work days:  Monday-Thursday 

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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Communications Co-ordinator: Ali McDade (she/her)
Mobile: 07585 969882
Normal work days: Monday to Friday

Ali's role includes data management and communications, including sparqs' publications, database management and maintenance of the website. She is also responsible for co-ordinating attendance at sector meetings for sparqs, NUS Scotland and student reps. 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.

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Central Support Team Co-ordinator: Sarah Davidson (she/her)
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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Associate Trainers

Our team of Associate Trainers for 2022-23 bring a wealth of experience from their studies and course rep activity within their institutions.  You can view their biographies 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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Clare Hunter (she/her)
Clare has just completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Careers Guidance at the University of the West of Scotland. She has studied at UWS for 8 years; her previous study includes BA Business and she has also completed a Masters in International Marketing Management. She held the post of Vice President Student Development with SAUWS for two years and was a course rep for two years during her degree. Her career goal is to become a lecturer in HE/FE and she feels that her role as an AT adds 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, she currently works in the Quality Team at UWS and is interested in co-creation of the curriculum. 2022-23 is her sixth year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Kirsty Turkington (she/her)
Kirsty is undertaking an MSc in Health History at the University of Strathclyde. She was a committed course rep for three years during her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at the University of the Highlands and Islands, 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 the last few years, Kirsty worked in mental health social care and is currently the elected chair of Care and Support Workers Organise! She has chaired and spoken at many national meetings over the last year, including at Arise - a festival of Left Ideas (over Zoom, of course). Kirsty is passionate about empowering the student voice, and she is looking forward to continuing passing on her representation and organising skills in her role with sparqs. This is her fourth year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Vincent Waters (he/him)
Vincent is a doctoral student, studying Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University. He has served as the elected Chair of the University Representative Body, Student Voice, and a member of the University Senate. 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 third year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Lucy Hogben (she/her)
Lucy is a mature student, now in her third year at the University of Stirling, studying Events Management. On leaving school, she completed a degree in Illustration and Printmaking at the University of Dundee and then worked for many years in retail and hospitality management. She is now enjoying a return to education whilst taking an active role within the university, as both a module representative and as a student ambassador, working to promote the university and recruit new students. This is her second year working as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Elena Deamant (they/them)
Elena (Lane) is from Chicago, Illinois and is in their fourth year in Social Policy and Politics (MA) at the University of Edinburgh. They have served as a programme representative for Social Policy for the last two years and a peer tutor for the past year, valuing the opportunity to deepen connections with students and staff. Lane has interned with several organisations covering a range of policy issues, most recently working on health workforce policy with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They also volunteer at a community garden and in local childcare in the Edinburgh area. Lane is thrilled to be in their second year as an Associate Trainer with sparqs.

Susana Woitzik (she/her)
After graduating from Abertay University with a BA (Hons) in Marketing and Business in 2022, Susana is now pursuing her Master’s degree in Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University. Originally from Germany, she moved to Scotland in 2018. Right from the start of her time at university, she has been involved in student representation in the role of class representative, society committee member and furthermore, attending the NUS Scotland Conference in 2019 and NUS Liberation Conference in 2022 as a delegate. Susana is excited to return to sparqs as an Associate Trainer for a second year.

Beth Macphee (she/her)
Beth is currently in her 3rd year at City of Glasgow College studying Travel & Tourism at HNC degree. She was a dedicated and enthusiastic Institutional Associate Trainer at the college during academic year 2021-22 and embellished her passion for student representation by exploring a variety of student movement positions. She was the volunteering officer in the student parliament team and volunteered as an ESOL peer mentor over a 12-week academic period. In her first year of studying, she was a devoted class rep, and her determination did not go unnoticed when she was acknowledged as class representative of the year in 2021. She has also attended conferences in relation to her parliamentary role and excelled her skills by committing her time as an active convenor of the creative writing society. This is Beth’s first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer and she is thrilled to be a part of the journey, which she feels will enhance her public speaking and team building skills.

Cecilia Coker (she/her)
Cecilia (known as Remi) is currently running a postgraduate course in Oil and Gas and Renewable Energy Law at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. She has around 12 years’ experience in legal practice in Nigeria and has participated in voluntary public speaking and career trainings for school students. she has held executive positions during her school years in student societies at secondary school, undergraduate and graduate levels. Remi is currently a member of the academic and social council of the LLM Law and OGREL (Oil and Gas and Renewable Energy Law Department at Robert Gordon University and the department representative for OGREL. Remi loves reading and writing and employed this passion in her years of legal practice experience and currently, in her studies. This is Remi’s first year as an Associate Trainer and she is driven by the desire for social networking and learning new things, Remi is passionate about hitting the ground running and assisting students achieve their highest potentials whilst studying, developing her own skills in the process.

Damson Ellen (she/her)
Damson is in her second year of Environmental Management at SRUC in Edinburgh. She moved to Edinburgh four years ago to work in finance, before finding a course that suited her interests in climate change, renewable energies and land management. She has acted as the class representative for her course and as student ambassador for the college. This has provided many opportunities, such as working the Royal Highland Show, planning student events and featuring in social media posts and writing articles to promote the college. This is her first year as an Associate Trainer for sparqs.

Finn Link (he/him)
Finn is in his second year of his Game Design and Production studies at Abertay University, where he was course rep during his first year, with his main focus and passion in his studies being 2D character and gameplay design. He is secretary of the committee of Abertay's Pokétay society, and has been since his first year. His main goal as a course rep is to create a productive space for students and lecturers where communication is key. This is his first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Ho-Yin Yip (he/him)
Ho-Yin (known as Henry) is a dedicated physicist and mathematician studying at The University of Edinburgh and is in his first year as an Associate Trainer. In the past year, he was the course representative for his degree and actively participated in student activism. Over this summer, he has founded several STEM-related group projects and has designed several websites, while simultaneously participating in Hyperloop Edinburgh (HYPED) and the Edinburgh Scientific Researchers Association (ESRA). As a weather forecaster, a runner, and a chess player, Henry has a tight schedule. However, he thinks the time invested in his role as an Associate Trainer worth it, as it enables him to hone his public speaking skills, while building up courage so he can tackle more challenges in the years to come as a scientist.

Kirsten Koss (she/her)
Kirsten is currently in second year at the University of Aberdeen studying History and Politics. This will be her first year at the University after graduating with an HND in Social Sciences from North East Scotland College in 2022. Kirsten began her work in the student movement as a course rep herself, before she stood for election to the position of Depute President at her college’s Students’ Association. During her year as a student officer, Kirsten was a member of the NESCol Regional Board. She was asked to attend the Scottish Parliament as a witness to a committee hearing and was a member of an SQA strategic group. Kirsten is keenly versed in the student movement and strongly believes in empowering other students to become effective members of it too. Whilst she will be starting at university, she is passionate about the benefits of Scotland’s colleges and widening participation more generally. Kirsten is keen to continue doing her part in the student movement and is looking forward to equipping other students to become effective course representatives. Kirsten also works part time and volunteers as an elected member of NUS Scotland’s Steering Committee. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Lauren-Marie Kennedy (she/her)
Lauren-Marie is currently studying towards her degree in Fine Art at University of Dundee. Having been a Course Rep twice before at previous colleges, she cares a great deal about the student voice and making it heard. Since beginning her course, she has been a Student Ambassador - a role she really enjoys as she gets to meet and speak with prospective students at various online and in-person events. Lauren-Marie also recently served as School President, which saw her liaise with students and staff on a much deeper level. Equality is incredibly important to Lauren-Marie and she is a passionate animal rights activist. This is her first year with sparqs as an Associate Trainer.

Manuela Davies-Vengoechea (she/her)
Manuela is in her third year studying Fine Art with Painting at the Glasgow School of Art. She is a dedicated class rep and has been during her university and high school career, with a focus on improving the student learning experience and environment. She led the International Committee at the Edinburgh Academy, organising cultural events and public speaking opportunities. She participated in the Confucius Institute regional public speaking competition in Edinburgh, and became well known within the Edinburgh Academy for leading the discussion on student wellbeing and current social issues. She also led the CCF RAF (cadets) section as Flight Sergeant, having command of a group of 20 younger cadets, during which time, she completed the Methods of Instructor Training (MoIT) course. Last year, she organised groups to push for and eventually achieve a reinstatement of life drawing classes and taught skills in her university, to the benefit of the whole School of Fine Art. This year, she is excited to also step into the role of Associate Trainer with sparqs.

Promise Effiong (he/him)
During 2022-23, Promise will be studying his PhD in Marketing with a specialty in Consumer Insight at Robert Gordon University. He recently finished his MSc in International Marketing, also at RGU, during which he served as Course Rep. He previously obtained his BSc in Geography from the University of Lagos. After his BSc, he worked for 3 years with Campari as a Key Account Manager looking after grocery stores for Gruppo Campari Brand. His last role before moving to Scotland was with Red Bull as On-Premise Account Manager looking after Red Bull in premium bars, clubs and hotels. This is his first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.

Sarah Calder (she/her)
Sarah is in her final year studying Painting at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University. She has been a dedicated course rep for all four years at University, and with her prior course rep experience at North East Scotland College, she has six years experience as a course rep. Sarah is enthusiastic and passionate about making a difference, enabling everyone to have a voice and improve the quality of learning and teaching through communication and mutual understanding. In Sarah’s course work she paints contemporary and nostalgic pieces, creating talking points bringing together different generations through art. Sarah aspires to use her dedication to art and inspiring others by teaching secondary level art when she finishes her degree. This is her first year as an Associate Trainer.

 

 

Student Engagement Framework

National Education Officers’ Network meeting

6 Oct 2022

This is the first meeting of our National Education Officers’ Network (NEON) for academic year 2022-23, which will…

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