*Please note this webpage has not yet been updated to include all the institutions involved in NStEP*

The National Student Engagement Programme

The National Student Engagement Programme is a collaborative initiative under development by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). A national working group has been established to develop the programme. Members of the institutions and their student representatives that are part of the pilot phase make up members of the working group.  There are two key strands of work involved in the national programme as follows:

  1. A National Student Training Programme

Working with pilot institutions to develop the materials, processes and support requirements to deliver a common student representative training programme that will inform the implementation of a comprehensive student training programme at a national level.

  1. Developing Institutional Capacity

Working with pilot institutions to help them assess their current student engagement activities and to identify areas for enhancement towards improved practice.

QQI and HEA have engaged the Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland agency, referred to as sparqs, to act as consultants to the project. In particular, its role is to advise the working group and to facilitate and assist in the development of the pilot programme. Sparqs will also conduct the institutional strategic analysis sessions for each pilot which will look at how they currently manage student engagement activities, and identify areas for improvement.

Working under the guidance of the National Student Engagement Principles, the National Student Engagement Programme will develop student capabilities to engage at all levels across the higher education system.  The programme sets out to achieve the following aims:

  • To develop student capabilities to engage in quality enhancement, quality assurance and other related activities at all levels of the higher education system.
  • To support institutions in developing processes and activities which support/facilitate the meaningful engagement of students.
  • To strengthen the value placed on student engagement across Ireland and develop tools and resources to support a common understanding and build effective practice.
  • To lay the foundations to develop work beyond the pilot phase, to inform the implementation of a National Student Training Programme and increase capacity to progress this student engagement initiative.

The programme will also provide support to the pilot institutions in developing processes and activities, in parallel with student training, which will support the continued engagement of students and extend the benefits of the student training to the wider student population and learning community.

Principles

Students must be centrally involved in decision-making processes in higher education institutions.  In April 2016 the Higher Education Authority (HEA) published the report of the Working Group on Student Engagement in Irish Higher Education.

The Working Group was established by the HEA in 2014 to develop a set of principles to assist higher education institutions in enhancing student engagement.  It was chaired by Professor Tom Collins.

Launching its report at a conference on student engagement in the Department of Education and Skills, Professor Collins said: “Student engagement essentially means student involvement in governance and management, quality assurance, and teaching and learning.

“While students are ultimately responsible for their own learning and level of engagement, effective student engagement also depends on institutional conditions, policies and culture that enable and encourage students to get involved.  The benefits of effective student engagement can include better retention rates, higher levels of satisfaction with educational outcomes, and better student / staff relationships on college campuses.”

Students as partners, not consumers

Professor Collins said that the Working Group favoured the “developmental model” for Irish higher education institutions, over the “market model” common in many jurisdictions.  The market model is based on a view of the student as a consumer while, in contrast, the developmental model sees students as partners in a learning community, with both the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Recommendations

The report of the Working Group recommends that all higher education institutions complete a co-led (staff and student) evaluation of formal and informal student engagement practices and opportunities at every level.  Once the self-evaluations are complete, institutions and students should co-author a student engagement policy that places the principles included in the Working Group’s report at the heart of each institution.  The principles include: democracy, transparency, inclusivity and diversity, feedback, professionalism and collegiality.

At the launch Tom Boland, Chief Executive Officer of the HEA, said:

“Achieving successful student engagement is not about enforcement and compliance; it’s about building up a meaningful culture and two-way communications.

“Student participation in higher education governance in Ireland is a legal requirement, but representation on various governance bodies is not sufficient on its own.  Both formal and informal mechanisms, as well as parity of esteem between students and staff, are extremely important. The culture of engagement must incorporate all staff and students, and reflect the diversity of the student body, incorporating mature, part-time, distance learning and international students.”

Speakers at the conference included Professor Stuart Brand, Director of Learning Experience at Birmingham City University, and Marese Bermingham, Head of Strategic Student Engagement and Retention at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).  Both institutions were consulted by the Working Group on Student Engagement due to the high quality of their existing student engagement practices.

The full report of the Working Group on Student Engagement, including the principles developed by the Group, is available below.

http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/enhancing_student_engagement_in_decision_making_1.pdf

http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/principles_student_engagement_insert_final_web_version_0.pdf

The Partners:

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HEA

The HEA leads the strategic development of the Irish higher education and research system with the objective of creating a coherent system of diverse institutions with distinct missions, which is responsive to the social, cultural and economic development of Ireland and its people and supports the achievement of national objectives.

The HEA has a statutory responsibility, at central government level, for the effective governance and regulation of higher education institutions and the higher education system.

Objectives span the enhancement of teaching and learning, the promotion of equity of access to higher education, the enhancement of institutions’ responsiveness to the needs of wider society, research capacity-building, and the internationalisation of Irish higher education. The HEA leads in developing the evidence-base which underpins strategic planning and strategy implementation at institutional, regional and national level.

The HEA exercises functions in respect of

  • Funding
  • Accountability
  • The quality of outcomes
  • Policy research and advice to the Minister
  • Data analytics and knowledge management
  • Advocacy and communicating higher education
  • Co-ordination of interaction between public bodies and the higher education system.

QQI

Quality and Qualifications Ireland is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Their functions include those previously carried out by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC); the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI).

In the area of qualifications, they are responsible for maintaining the ten-level NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) are an awarding body, setting standards for awards made in the NFQ. They validate education and training programmes and make extensive awards in the Further Education and Training sector including in the Education and Training Boards as well as in the Higher Education private sector. They also provide advice on recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and on the recognition of Irish qualifications abroad.

In the area of quality assurance, QQI is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of quality assurance in further and higher education providers in Ireland. This includes the universities, institutes of technology, Education and Training Boards and providers in the private further and higher education and training sectors (availing of QQI awards). The outcomes of these external reviews are published on the website qqi.ie.

USI

The Union of Students in Ireland (Aontas na Mac Léinn in Éirinn) is the national representative body for third-level students’ unions in Ireland. Founded in 1959, USI now represents more than 354,000 students in over forty colleges across the island of Ireland. The goal of USI is to work for rights of students and a fair and equal third level education system in Ireland. USI Officers are elected at the Annual Congress and serve twelve month terms. Students are represented on the boards of national agencies including the Higher Education Authority, Quality and Qualifications Ireland, National Forum for Teaching and Learning and Student Universal Support Ireland by USI officers.

USI is a full member of the European Students’ Union (ESU) which represents students from 45 National Students’ Unions in 38 countries.

Jack Leahy, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, joins the working group as the lead from USI which is a founding partner of the National Student Engagement Programme and hosts the office of the National Student Engagement Coordinator, Cat O’Driscoll.

5 National Projects

On April 5th, the National Working Group of the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) Pilot selected five national projects as a focus for the next 18 months following a review and analysis of the Pilot Institutional Analysis report. The objective of each project is to establish guidelines, suitable for the diversity of the sector, on the project area. These projects are as follows:

  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
  5. Staff Roles and Capacity Building

The Call issued to institutions and their students’ unions for team members is available here: National Projects_CallForTeams

Pilot Participants

Programme consultants – sparqs

sparqs (student partnerships in quality Scotland) is an agency which puts students at the heart of decisions being made about the quality and governance of the learning experience. The role of students in shaping learning and teaching is key to the quality arrangements for Scottish colleges and universities and sparqs is the agency responsible for supporting this work. The team of staff based in Edinburgh and Inverness have a significant amount of expertise in developing and supporting this work. sparqs works with all Scotland’s colleges and universities, and with their students’ associations through a range of research, training, events and consultancy. Students and staff within institutions influence sparqs’ work through the advisory groups and there is also significant support from a wide range of partners, including several sector agencies.

Founded in 2003, sparqs is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, hosted and managed on their behalf by NUS Scotland, and directed by a Steering Committee with sector-wide membership.

 

About the working group members

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The establishment of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education was announced by the Minister for Education & Skills in November 2012. The role of the Forum is to enhance the quality of the learning experience for all students at third level, be they full-time, part-time or flexible learners.

The Forum brings together all of those involved in shaping third-level teaching and learning in Ireland in order to support and develop excellent practices already underway in many of our Universities, Institutes of Technology and Private Colleges.

Engaging with leaders, managers, teachers and students across all institutes of education at third level in Ireland the Forum will mobilise expertise and inputs from across the entire sector to shape best practice in all institutes of education.

Vision of the Forum

Under the guidance of its Board, whose members are chosen to represent the different areas of expertise in teaching and learning, the Forum engages in a range of activities aimed at:

  • Championing all those who contribute to great teaching and learning in third level education
  • Inspiring great practice, by celebrating examples of teaching that have a strong and positive impact on learning
  • Developing teachers and learners
  • Benchmarking best practice in professional development,
  • Building e-learning capacity
  • Enabling innovation in a fast-changing educational environment

By promoting key enhancement themes (Teaching for Transitions 2013/15, Assessment for, as and of Learning 2016/18). The Forum helps to focus expertise and attention on issues of real interest and importance while improving, developing, innovating and transforming the teaching and learning culture and capacity throughout Higher Education institutions in Ireland.

Dr. Terry Maguire, Director of the National Forum, joins the working group to share the Forums experience with student engagement and collaborative approaches.

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The Irish Survey of Student Engagement was launched in 2014 after a successful national pilot in 2013. Currently, thirty higher education institutions participate in the ISSE. Almost 60,000 students have participated in the survey between 2013 and 2015. Based on this experience, a revised and shortened survey was implemented in 2016 to which more than 29,000 students responded. Each year, a report of national results is published in November and can be found on studentsurvey.ie.

The ISSE collects data on students’ engagement with their learning and learning environments. The main purpose of the survey is to provide benefits to each institution (students and staff) by helping to improve feedback and supporting appropriate action. Objectives include:

  • To increase transparency in relation to the student experience in higher education institutions
  • To enable direct student input on levels of engagement and satisfaction with their higher education institution
  • To identify good practice that enhances the student experience
  • To assist institutions to identify issues and challenges affecting the student experience
  • To serve as a guide for continual enhancement of institutions’ teaching and learning and student engagement
  • To document the experiences of the student population, thus enabling year on year comparisons of key performance indicators
  • To provide insight into student opinion on important issues of higher education policy and practice
  • To facilitate comparison with other higher education systems internationally

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement is managed as a collaborative partnership. It is co-sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), institutions’ representative bodies (Institutes of Technology Ireland, IOTI, and the Irish Universities Association, IUA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The partnership approach in place is an important feature of the project. Working groups, consisting of institutions’ and students’ representatives, manage the national project.

Sean O’Reilly, Project Manager of the Irish Survey of Student Engagement, joins the NStEP Working group to share his experience of student engagement data and national collaborative approaches.

CIT

Cork Institute of Technology is participating in the pilot primarily through the Student Engagement and Success Office and the Students’ Union. CIT caters for over 16,ooo students across four campuses. The Students’ Union includes three full time sabbatical officers and three part-time officers.

CIT established a strategic initiative in 2012 to improve student engagement and retention. The Student Engagement and Success Office is resourced and based within the Office of the Registrar and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Office, with the Students’ Union, has already launched a SparQ at CIT project with assistance and advice from sparqs and will bring their experience in this initiative to the National Working Group.

Participation on the National Working Group is led by Marese Bermingham, Student Engagement and Success Office, and the SU President Shane Falvey.

LYIT

Letterkenny Institute of Technology has almost 4,000 students, a high proportion of whom are mature students (24%). It is the only Higher Level Institution in County Donegal and receives over 70% of full time students from within the county.  The pilot will be coordinated by the Office of the Registrar and the Students’ Union. The Students’ Union executive includes three full time sabbatical officers.

Participation on the National Working Group is led by Dr. Lynn Ramsey, Head of Teaching and Learning, and the SU President Dylan McGowen.

NCI

The National College of Ireland is located in Dublin City Centre and has a current enrolment of 4,800 students. This student cohort has a diverse learner profile with 47% of students being part-time learning studying on campus, in off-campus centres and via blended and online learning. The Students’ Union has two full time sabbatical officers and a full time administrator. The pilot project will be managed from the Quality Assurance and Statistical Services Office and the Students’ Union. Oversight at an institutional level will be provided by the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Committee of Academic Council.

Participation on the National Working Group is led by Dr. Maurice Fitzgerald, Quality Assurance & Statistical Services Officer, and the SU President Stephen Cleary.

NUIG

National University of Ireland Galway has over 17,000 students and is located in Galway city centre. The Registrar has established a working group engaging the Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Quality Office and students. The Students’ Union executive includes three full time sabbatical officers and twelve part-time officers and convenors. Engagement with the National Programme will be led by the Office of the Vice President for the Student Experience and the Students’ Union.

Participation on the National Working Group is led by Pat Morgan, Vice President for the Student Experience, and SU President Jimmy McGovern.

WIT

Waterford Institute of Technology is participating in the pilot primarily through the Students’ Union and Office for Student Life and Learning. WIT has over 7,500 students and located across five campuses. The Students’ Union has two office location and an executive made up of three full time sabbatical officers and two part-time elected officers. The Office of Student Life and Learning (SLL) provides direct support to students and develops policy and programmes relating to student engagement.

Participation on the National Working Group will be led by Michelle Byrne, SU President and Laura Keane, Head of SLL.

The 2017 Call for Student Trainers has now closed. NStEP is seeking up to 10 new trainers to deliver the National Student Trainers Programme across 17 Colleges from September to December 2017.

View the call for trainers here:  2017 Call for Student Trainers

Complete the application form here: https://goo.gl/forms/m16ImGZJbKHCXKkG2

  • Applications must be submitted before 5pm on March 31st 2017
  • Initial interviews will be completed by phone during the week April 17th 2017
  • If you have any questions, please contact cat.odriscoll@usi.ie
  • Find further information on usi.ie/nstep
  • Follow @NStEPie on twitter for updates.

 

Student Trainers 2016

Dannii Curtis (Former UCDSU Education Officer) @Dannii_Cor

Molly Kenny (former TCDSU Education Officer)  @MollyKenny4

Laura O’Connor (Scout leader) @buildingskyward

Catherine Ryan (Part time officer in NUIGSU) @CatherineRyan77

Joanna Siewierska (Former ISSU Deputy President) @Joannaissu

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Laura, Catherine, Joanna, Dannii and Cat in Dundee.

 

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The National Student Reviewers Pool has been established by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The call for applications to the pool will be launched in 2017. Pool members will receive training from QQI and USI on quality assurance in Irish Higher Education and the quality review procedures.

The Call for Reviewers can be found here: National Student Reviewers Pool Call

Application form available here: https://goo.gl/forms/QW0DYjz1vmeAT9rr2

For further information contact cat.odriscoll@usi.ie

About Quality and Qualifications Ireland 

Quality and Qualifications Ireland is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Their functions include those previously carried out by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC); the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI).

In the area of qualifications, they are responsible for maintaining the ten-level NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) are an awarding body, setting standards for awards made in the NFQ. They validate education and training programmes and make extensive awards in the Further Education and Training sector including in the Education and Training Boards as well as in the Higher Education private sector. They also provide advice on recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and on the recognition of Irish qualifications abroad.

In the area of quality assurance, QQI is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of quality assurance in further and higher education providers in Ireland. This includes the universities, institutes of technology, Education and Training Boards and providers in the private further and higher education and training sectors (availing of QQI awards). The outcomes of these external reviews are published on the website qqi.ie.

Internship 

USI now seeks to recruit a paid part-time Intern for the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP), to work on the expansion of NStEP and the National Student Training Programme. The intern hired for this position should expect to be involved in all aspects of the National Student Engagement Programme.

The intern who fills this position should expect to learn about the work of the programme at the national and institutional levels, the Irish Principles of Student Engagement and the student partnership ethos. This will include working with the NStEP Coordinator, staff and students across the 23 institutions involved and a team of student trainers. In return, the intern will support the administration of the programme, develop the communications structure and bring essential skills: excellent communication skills, attention to detail, the ability to work independently on important projects, and most importantly, a strong enthusiasm for the aims of the programme.

About You

You have a well-developed set of communication and design skills. You are interested in how the national level activities of the Irish Higher Education Sector work and the role of students in governance, quality assurance and teaching & learning procedures.

You would like to develop your portfolio and contribute to the programmes publications.

About NStEP

The National Student Engagement Programme is a collaborative initiative developed by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The work is divided into three areas:

The National Student Training Programme Developing Institutional Capacity 5 national projects The goals of the programme are:

To develop student capabilities to engage in quality enhancement, quality assurance and other related activities at all levels of the higher education system. To support institutions in developing processes and activities which support/facilitate the meaningful engagement of students. To strengthen the value placed on student engagement across Ireland and develop tools and resources to support a common understanding and build effective practice. To lay the foundations to develop work beyond the pilot phase, to inform the implementation of a National Student Training Programme and increase capacity to progress this student engagement initiative. Internship Learning Outcomes

Gain knowledge of the Irish Higher Education sector Understand the establishment and implementation of the Irish Principles of Student Engagement and the National Student Engagement Programme Develop management and planning skills when creating and implementing a communications strategy for the programme Enhance writing and analysis skills by contributing to briefing documents, reports and other publications.

Job Specification

The position would report directly to the NStEP Coordinator and will work to objectives set out with the programme partners: Higher Education Authority, Quality and Qualifications Ireland, Union of Students in Ireland.

The role is primarily the development of the programme communications and supporting the National Student Training Programme, but the intern will attend meetings with the NStEP Coordinator and will be expected to take an active role in programme events.

Excellent written and oral communication skills, excellent organisational skills and attention to detail are important. Needs to be able to work independently with minimal supervision. Applicants should be confident in their design skills and comfortable with social media.

The position is paid at an hourly rate of €11.50 and is planned to work 20 hours a week for 13 weeks, commencing no later than August 20th.

USI strives to be an equal opportunities employer and is particularly open to applications from students, new graduates and people with new qualifications in communications, design or education.

Location

The role will be flexible, working from home, campus or the USI Head Quarters with opportunities to travel and support events across the country. There is an expenses programme to cover reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.

A typical week might involve:

Composing social media content about the activities of the programme. Briefing student trainers on their training timetable. Designing a poster or newsletter. Reviewing feedback data and creating graphics for reports. Calling college contacts to support the running of the student training programme. Participating in a meeting, conference or event with the NStEP Coordinator. Please apply with a CV and cover letter, to arrive no later than 5pm on 21st July 2017 to cat.odriscoll@usi.ie

Region: Dublin / Flexible Expiry date: 21/07/17 Date Entered/Updated: 20/06/17

NStEP Event for Students’ Unions

On August 9th 2017 NStEP will be hosted by NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union for an event for Students’ Unions.

The agenda is available here: August 9th NStEP Event for SUs Agenda

As places are limited please register before August 1st at following link: https://goo.gl/forms/6PLMyOZs4ThrCn7F2

All Aboard Week 2017

NStEP is delighted to support All Aboard Week 2017. Since it’s beginnings the All Aboard project, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, has championed student partnership in it’s activities and project governance. The project aimed to identify the wide range of skills and knowledge that students, and all those who work in higher education, will need to feel confident and creative when learning, working and exploring the digital world. To achieve this the project developed a National Digital Skills Framework, created digital badges, initiated Student Partnership projects and ran many different events for teachers, students and the wider community.

All Aboard 2017 is a week-long series of national and regional public events designed to build confidence in Ireland’s digital skills for learning. It runs from April 3rd to 7th and you can find more information and all the events on http://allaboard2017.ie/all-aboard/ and follow @allaboard2017 on twitter for updates.

Programme Reports

The pilot report for the Student Engagement Programme is available here: NStEP Student Training Pilot 2016 Report

The pilot report for the Institutional Analysis Work Stream is available here: NStEP Pilot Institutional Analysis Report

 

Programme Updates

The June edition of the NStEP newsletter is available here: NStEP June Newsletter

NStEP has begun roll out. Read the March 2017 Newsletter here: NStEP March Newsletter: NStEP March Newsletter

Check out the December 2016 update on the programme here: nstep-flyer-dec-2016

Follow the programme activities on twitter @NStEPie