In seeking to become one of the pilot institutions involved in NStEP this past academic year, we agreed to support NCISU student representative and NCI staff attendance at the sparqs (Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland) conference held on 23 March 2017 at Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh. Entitled Celebrating the impact of the student voice on quality enhancement, this event featured a number of keynote talks, presentations and workshops, a QA report on which is available here.
There were a number of interesting take-homes from the conference, but the most effective practice identified is that, working together, students and staff (incl. class representatives, SU executive members, academics, administrative/support staff, senior management, etc.) can have a real impact both on the student experience and upon institutional culture.
One of the themes most in evidence is the increasing willingness of institutions to involve staff and students in self-evaluations aimed at enshrining and/or introducing more transparency, increasing collegiality and parity of esteem, as well as more openness in dealing with the practicalities, and celebrating the role, of the student as partner in their own education and at their place of learning.
One of the concrete possibilities raised is the development and implementation of Student Partnership Agreements, not unlike NCI’s own Learners’ Charter, though perhaps taking it a step or two further. Another is the enhancement of student representative systems, which itself has been a piece of work identified through NCI’s participation in NStEP. Let’s see where this all takes us.