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: email@example.com
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.
Senior Development Consultant: Simon Varwell
Mobile: 07815 938966
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.
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.
Senior Development Consultant (maternity cover): Stef Black
Mobile: 07977 980867
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.
Development Consultant: Justin Walker
Mobile: 07880 192722
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
Development Consultant: Megan Brown
Mobile: 07469 354245
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
Development Consultant: Denise McCaig
Mobile: 07966 104056
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.
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.
Central Support Team Co-ordinator: Sarah Davidson
Mobile: 07585 969882
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.
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.
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 many of our amazing 2019-20 ATs continue for the coming year, along with two fantastic new ATs. All of their biographies will be published below in due course.
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.lastname@example.org.
2019-20 Associate Trainers:
Clare is currently studying Careers Guidance at the University of the West of Scotland and has just taken up the role of VP 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. This is her third year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Rebecca is commencing a PGDE in Primary teaching at the University of Strathclyde. She graduated with a Zoology degree from the University of Dundee in 2012 and has since worked within informal education at Dundee Science Centre, then managing SCDI's Young Engineers programme across Scotland; supporting teachers and employers to engage young people with STEM subjects. During her undergraduate studies Rebecca was an active course rep and enjoyed working as an Associate Trainer with sparqs. She's excited to get back to being a student and being a sparqs Associate Trainer again!
Caraleigh is in her third year of an Engineering apprenticeship. This year she will complete a HND in Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow Clyde College on day release, while also working four days per week. Caraleigh has been a course rep in her current course as well as previous studies. She is currently a STEM Ambassador, working with children and young people to encourage them to consider STEM subjects and careers. She is looking forward to expanding her skills and knowledge by working with students in her role with sparqs. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Andie is commencing her second year of an accelerated English Law LLB at the University of Dundee. She previously graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Neurosciences, also from 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. Upon graduation, Andie will study the LPC and aims to move to London and commence a city law career there. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer and she is looking forward to the new challenge.
Irina is currently in her fourth year of a BA (Hons) Fashion Management at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. She is the President of the academic Creative and Cultural Business Society and the Vice-President of Kaim Shop at RGU Go Green. She was a Student Ambassador for the university and has been involved in many projects engaging with students and staff within her course, school, and the wider university. Irina’s latest recognitions are the Half Scarlet with Distinction Award for superior commitment and dedicated work for the societies mentioned above, and the Pride in Partnership Award for the contribution to improving the student learning experience and engagement with the University’s enhancement processes. Before university, she completed a teaching course, during which she was a course rep as well as a trainer for the Speech Therapists Association of Romania. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer and she feels the role will bring her additional skills and experience in the field.
Bryony has just finished her accelerated degree in Geography at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Inverness College. She is now progressing her studies by doing a Master’s degree in Rural Sustainable Development online with UHI. She was a course rep for three academic years while on her course. She aspires to go into sustainable management and hopes that the Associate Trainer post will give her experience in training others. This is her first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.
Kirsty is studying Social Sciences at the University of the Highlands and Islands, entering her third year of studies. 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. This summer she has been organising music events with Love Music Hate Racism. 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 first year as a sparqs Associate Trainer.