The new QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) enhancement theme, Developing and Supporting the Curriculum, offers an ideal opportunity for students to influence the shape of higher education in Scotland and to further embrace our approach of working in partnership to meet the significant challenges we face.
The session on the theme at the NUS Scotland Zone Conference on 18th November provided a stimulating discussion. Students took part in a wide-ranging debate on the future of higher education, future students and what the work of the theme should focus on. Key issues emerging were the impact of more varied learner journeys, changes in schools and colleges, and the more diverse student population, as well as globalisation and student mobility, a need for modernisation and an increasing focus on employability.
Students will also be consulted at the QAA roadshow events in early 2012. These are taking place at University of Glasgow on 1st February, Edinburgh Napier University on 9th February and University of Abertay, Dundee on the 29th February. sparqs will support student involvement in these events and facilitate a session at each location to further explore the theme from a student perspective.
As well as supporting student input into the development of the theme, sparqs and NUS are working closely with QAA to support the work of the Student Team Members (STMs) and student members of the enhancement themes steering committee. The first event for STMs will be held on Tuesday 17th January in Edinburgh.
The QAA Enhancement Themes national conference is on the 7th and 8th March 2012. We really want a good turn out from students so do put the date in your diary and get some of your reps to consider coming along too.
Details of all these events will be available on our website shortly but please pop the dates in your diary now.
The previous enhancement theme of Graduates for the 21st Century saw the development of the role of students within the theme with the introduction of institutional teams and STMs within these teams. As this mechanism will continue into the new theme we felt it was important to build on the contribution made by students in this role and provide more sustained support and help for networking and sharing of ideas and resources.
STMs will receive training and support from sparqs on how the themes operate in general and how they can influence this theme. The training will also explore ways in which they can use the theme to develop work in their own institutions. sparqs will also facilitate regular network meetings of the STMs to help them share information on how the theme is progressing in their own institutions and share information on practices from a student perspective. These network meetings will also inform the student members of the steering committee, helping them contribute ideas from the range of student activities and perspective to national events.
The enhancement themes have always had a commitment to engage students in their work. Developing student engagement with an awareness of the themes will have a number of benefits including:
• Ensuring responses to enhancement themes at national, institutional and subject level are student centred.
• Ensuring a sharing of information and practices from a student perspective.
• Developing students as conscious learners – aware of the purpose and context of innovations and new approaches happening around them.
• Helping to embed enhancement in response to the theme at subject level – policy activities reinforced by student interest.
• Making students more aware of conscious efforts made by their institutions to enhance quality. Students will be more confident that their institution is providing a good student experience and is engaging with national initiatives.
• Developing students as active ambassadors of the Quality Enhancement Framework and its impact.
As we develop ways to support student engagement we will consider ways to realise these benefits.
To find out more, please contact Megan McHaney, sparqs Development Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org