NStEP working groups – the past year in focus



Across the last 12 months, NCI has, alongside the other four pilot project members (CIT, LVIT, NUIG & WIT), participated in three formal National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) Working Group meetings. Each of these meetings has allowed us the opportunity to contribute to the development and shaping of NStEP, as well as getting a real insight into the thinking of colleagues – both staff and student representatives – at other institutions and within the sector, and in turn to reflect upon our own practices.

This QA@NCI posting is a little longer than those which have gone before, but it allows us to examine the path we have been following, as well as the choices that lay ahead for us. A future post will evaluate NCI’s own project implementation group meetings which have been taking place locally, two of which have already been held, with a third planned, but the focus here in this posting is on the three national working group meetings.

Looking back upon it now, that first meeting on 17th May 2016 offered us the chance to explore the concept of student engagement, before considering how it might be engendered and supported in each of the participating institutions, as well as more generally. Key outputs identified at that stage included the institutional representative training programme and the strategic analysis sessions to be conducted at each of the five locations, as well as the development of work streams and the identification of national events to support the overall project.

The agenda from that first NStEP Working Group meeting follows below:

NStEP Working Group Meeting 1 - 17 May 2016
NStEP Working Group Meeting 1 agenda – 17th May 2016

NCI subsequently held its own first NStEP Institutional Implementation Group Meeting a fortnight later on 1st June, more on which in a future QA@NCI posting when this blog will consider the local impact of the project in a little more depth.

Following what might at first appear to be a hiatus over the summer and autumn, a second NStEP Working Group meeting was held on 10th November 2016. Coming one day after our own institution’s Strategic Analysis Workshop, the first of the five HEIs to undertake this session facilitated by sparqs, that second national meeting proved to be an ideal opportunity to share our initial experiences of the project with our fellow participants. At that point, we had not yet availed of the class rep training programme, but the meeting did give us a real insight into how other members were beginning to conduct or plan for theirs; indeed, facilitated by an NStEP trainer and with support from NCISU colleagues, a well attended class rep training event was held on 8th December. Meanwhile, a first NCI class rep system focus group meeting involving student representatives and staff was held four days later – further details are available here – while the wider project featured prominently at the 2nd QQI conference on Quality Enhancement held on 15th December. It was becoming very clear that NStEP was having a local and a national impact.

The agenda from that second NStEP Working Group meeting follows below:

NStEP Working Group Meeting 2
NStEP Working Group Meeting 2 agenda – 10th November 2016

In due course, NCI held it own second NStEP Institutional Implementation Group Meeting early in the New Year on 11th January 2017, a deeper reflection upon which will follow in that aforementioned future QA@NCI blog posting.

However, it was the second NCI class rep system focus group meeting involving student representatives and staff which, held on 9th March, really accelerated our use of NStEP to promote developments at our own institution; as noted earlier, further details regarding this student representative system review are available here. At the same time, the QA Review has allowed a Student Feedback Forum and a Staff Feedback Forum to be conducted on 8th March and 22nd March respectively, with NStEP again featuring prominently, thereby illustrating again how this national project is impacting locally.

Most recently, the third NStEP Working Group meeting on 5th April 2017 also introduced a real step change into the national pilot project. In considering how the programme is now in the process of being rolled out nationally, we had the chance to examine the main outputs from the five institutional strategic analyses and the opportunity to identify future work steams. These new national work streams were subsequently agreed as: (1) the role and recruitment of class representatives; (2) the design, review and delivery of programmes; (3) student feedback opportunities, data and follow up; (4) students in formal system level procedures, strategy and decision making; and (5) staff roles and capacity building.

The agenda from the third NStEP Working Group meeting follows below:

NStEP Working Group Meeting 3
NStEP Working Group Meeting 3 agenda – 5th April 2017

Not surprisingly given the previous pattern outlined above, NCI is due to conduct its third NStEP Institutional Implementation Group Meeting on 31st May 2017; in turn, a considered reflection upon our local experiences will be offered here on the QA@NCI blog.

Over the past number of weeks, not only has the pilot project been rolled out nationally at an event held on 6th April – click here for more details on that Induction Event for the NStEP Student Training Programme – but a third NCI class rep system focus group meeting was held on 3rd May resulting in eight recommendations being made – more information relating to the student representative system review is available here.

These are clearly energising times in terms of student engagement both locally and nationally. Having benefitted from our participation in the pilot project, we now have the opportunity to continue to share what we have learned, to support future processes across the sector, and to implement the most effective practices here at NCI.

Author: QA@NCI

The Quality Assurance and Statistical Services (QASS) office was set up to support the implementation of Quality Assurance (QA) policies and procedures at the National College of Ireland (NCI).