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During the last 20 years, the Enhancement Themes have allowed staff and students to explore a broad range of priority topics which were and continue to be of strategic importance to the Scottish sector. The Themes have shaped the development of sector and institutional strategy, policy and practice. Our work has resulted in significant positive change to the experiences of our students. They have produced a large and diverse range of resources, including student and staff guides, workshops, case studies and scans of international practice.

2020 - 2023


Resilient Learning Communities focused on meeting the changing needs and values of an increasingly diverse student community and a rapidly changing external environment.


This Enhancement Theme intends to answer the following questions:


What will our learning communities look like by 2023? And what can we do now to prepare for them?

  • Who are our current and future students, and how will they want to learn? How can we gain a clear understanding of their needs? What information do we need to enable us to best support their learning?
  • How can we capitalise as a sector on the attributes students bring?
  • How do we ensure we can support our diverse learning communities? What might this mean for our staff and our infrastructure?
  • How should we anticipate, influence and respond to the changing external environment? How can we engage with our stakeholders and ensure we influence strategy and policy in Scotland and beyond?

In answering these key questions, the Theme will focus on four priority areas: 

  • equality and diversity
  • community and belonging
  • supporting staff and student success
  • flexible, accessible learning.

View more about Resilient Learning Communities

2017 - 2020

Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience reflected on data that was available within the Scottish sector to help us understand what we do well and what we could improve. We aimed to identify issues that required intervention, with priority given to any issue that would improve the student experience. We completed a range of institution work, sector-wide projects, collaborative clusters and HE planner activities on key areas, including:

  • Evaluation, progress and planning
  • Defining and capturing evidence
    • HE Data Landscape resource
    • The creative disciplines
    • Beyond the metrics: The Intangibles
  • Student engagement and demographics
    • Retention and progression
    • Top tips for engaging with data in annual monitoring
    • Responding to student voice
    • Students using evidence
    • Distance and sense of belonging
    • Developing graduate support
    • National Student Survey (NSS) analysis
    • Student mental wellbeing
    • Widening Participation with lecture recording
  • Optimising existing evidence
    • Enhancing programme leadership
    • Webinar series
    • Existing resources and training
    • Staff using evidence
  • Exploring learning analytics
    • Learning analytics - policy and practice
    • Learning analytics discussion papers
  • Paku Paku pack

View more about Evidence for Enhancement

2014 - 2017

Student Transitions explored the transitions of students into, through and out of study at university. We completed a range of institution work and sector-wide projects on key areas of transitions, including:

  • The Transitions Map
  • Transitions Skills and Strategies
  • Equality and diversity (including students who have been in care)
  • Experience and needs of international students'
  • Inter-institutional collaboration
  • Theme evaluation reports.

View more about Student Transitions

2011 - 2014

Developing and Supporting the Curriculum aimed to make the learner journey more effective for students and more efficient for staff and institutions. It provided dedicated time for the sector to consider and shape the nature of the Scottish higher education experience.

We published a range of resources including:

  • Theme overview reports
  • Institutional activity report 2011-2014
  • Curriculum for excellence toolkit for institutions
  • Flexible curriculum toolkit: Viewpoint handbook and cards
  • Staff: Enhancing teaching project report
  • Commissioned project reports.

View more about Developing and Supporting the Curriculum.

2008 - 2011

The Graduates for the 21st Century Theme combined the work of all the earlier Enhancement Themes.  It also consider what graduate attributes are required in the 21st century and what we can in the Scottish higher education sector to support this. We carried out a variety of work and published a range of resources including: 

  • Institutional activity report 2008-2011
  • Overview paper: Graduate attributes for the 21st century
  • Graduate attributes to support: Responding to student needs
  • Graduate attributes to support: Research-Teaching Linkages
  • Graduate attributes to support: The First Year
  • Graduate attributes to support: Assessment and Feedback
  • Graduate attributes to support: Employability.

View more about Graduates for the 21st Century.

2006 - 2008

Research Teaching Linkages considered the links between discipline-based research activities and the student learning experience. The main focus was on programme teams and how they can support students to achieve research-type graduate attributes. We produced a range of resources including:

  • Disciplinary reports across nine areas
  • Sector-wide reports
  • Institutional case studies.

View more about Research-Teaching Linkages.

2006 - 2008

The First Year focused on the nature and purposes of the students first year in higher education and how we can engage and empower students in their learning. We produced a range of resources including:

  • Overview report: The First Year
  • Six commissioned reports on key aspects of the first year
  • Two sector-wide studies of the first year.

View more about The First Year.

2005 - 2006

Integrative Assessment was a mini Theme setup to follow on from work on the Assessment Enhancement Theme. It focused on optimising the balance between formative and summative assessment. We published the following four guides to support the work:

  • Guide no 1: Monitoring students experiences of assessment
  • Guide no 2: Balancing assessment of and assessment for learning
  • Guide no 3: Blending assignments and assessments for high quality learning
  • Guide no 4: Managing assessment practices and procedures.

View more about Integrative Assessment.

2004 - 2006

Flexible Delivery aimed to address the need to create a learning environment that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the Scottish higher education sector. We published a range of resources including:
  • Institutional engagement report
  • Development project reports on the Flexible curriculum, Flexible entry and programmes and Flexible learning.

View more about Flexible Delivery.

Employability ran in parallel with the Flexible Delivery Theme. It aimed to create a clear understanding of the term employability and raise the profile and its benefits to students, employers and academic staff. We published a range of resources including:

  • Institutional engagement report
  • Commissioned reports to help engage academic staff, students and employers.

View more about Employability.

2003 - 2004

Responding to Student Needs was one of the first Enhancement Themes launched in 2003. We identified and considered two key areas: Student needs in the first year and student feedback and evaluation. We published two resources:

  • Overview report: Responding to Student Needs
  • Project outcome report.

View more about Responding to Student Needs.

Assessment was one of the first Enhancement Themes and focused on efficient assessment for students or staff and effective assessment that produces results. We published a range of resources including:

  • Overview report: Assessment 
  • Workshop outcome report.

View more about Assessment.