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The first meeting of the National Student Engagement Project Pilot (NStEP) was held today in the Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) offices on Lower Mount Street. The project working group aims to put students at the centre of their learning experience by giving them the relevant training to work on initiatives with staff, give feedback to the staff and empower them to engage in college structures.


The project is a collaborative initiative of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), QQI and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to give effect to the recently launched Principles for Student Engagement. The project is being developed in consultation with Sparqs (Student Partnership in Quality Scotland).


“NStEP will develop student capabilities and institutional capacity to enhance engagement at all levels across the higher education system.” Kevin Donoghue, USI President, said. “It encourages communication and feedback between students and staff and empowers students to improve teaching, and in turn, their own learning.”


The project’s objective is to develop the capacity of student representatives in Ireland in shaping teaching and learning and quality assurance in their institutions. The project has two work streams: the provision of class representative training content, delivered by trained student trainers, and institutional consultancy on developing student engagement structures.


The five participating pilot institutions are: NUI Galway, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, National College of Ireland, and Cork Institute of Technology.


The institutions are represented to the working group by senior institutional management and student representatives. The working group also involves project partners (USI, HEA, QQI) and sectoral experts from Irish Survey of Student Engagement and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. The working group is chaired by USI Vice President for Academic Affairs Jack Leahy. The first meeting involved a series of workshops from Eve Lewis, director of Sparqs, encouraging institutions and students’ unions to find ways of making the idea of student partnership meaningful for their college. The project is managed by Cat O’Driscoll, National Student Engagement Coordinator based at USI. Cat was hired specifically for the task.


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