28 July 2022
Reflecting on my time as Student Lead for the Scottish Enhancement Themes
Vice President for Education, Aberdeen University Students’ Association and Student Theme Leader
It has truly been an eventful year for Scotland and the Enhancement Themes as we continued to face the challenges presented by the global pandemic. It has, however, given me the opportunity to improve my own skills and meet and work with a wide range of people: sector agency staff, other student representatives and staff with a variety of roles across universities including senior managers.
As the Student Lead, you have an important part to play in several senior sector committees. There is SHEEC (Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee) where we often discussed the direction of Scottish quality arrangements, having real impact on universities and students. The TLT (Theme Leadership Team) oversees the progress of all the collaborative cluster projects, while shaping and contributing to the TLG (Theme Leaders’ Group) agendas and the overall work of the Enhancement Theme. The Student Lead also chairs the SLP (Student-Led Project) Steering Group.
What is it like?
At the start of the year, the SLP Steering Group choose a project to work on relating to an area which affects students across Scotland. The SLP Steering Group usually consists of around 10 members (the majority are students) plus one or two staff from QAAS’s partner - sparqs (Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland) - who help you set up the meetings and aid the whole group with delivery of the outputs. You are joined by a member of QAAS who provides you with valuable guidance and experience.
The best part of my experience was the Enhancement Themes Conference. It has definitely been a lot of work with planning the sessions about the Student-Led Project, and worrying about the in-person and online delivery in the hybrid conference format, but seeing your work come to life, and sharing it with others, is extremely fulfilling.
All of this might sound like a lot of pressure, but speaking from experience, you do receive support and some of the responsibility will be shared with a Deputy Student Lead.
What have we achieved?
As part of the second year of the Resilient Learning Communities Theme, the SLP Steering Group worked on a project looking at how we can promote the equity of the student learning experience, highlighting the barriers which still exist today and producing resources to help student representatives and staff tackle this issue.
The Enhancement Themes and QAA have a big impact on universities in Scotland, and they always have students at the heart of every discussion. For me, it was always a positive, supportive environment to work in and if there are changes you want to see outside of your university, then there really is no better opportunity to make a difference! The Enhancement Themes will be celebrating 20 years next summer (2023), and this year's Enhancement Theme will have an even bigger impact in Scotland and further afield, so why not go for it?!