NStEP Launches new Strategy 2019 – 2021

In mid-2019 the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) sought the views of staff and students from across Irish higher education in a consultation process to decide the direction that NStEP should take during it’s next strategic phase.

On 14th November 2019 NStEP launched the programme’s first strategy at Maynooth University during an annual conference. Attendees at the conference will explore how NStEP can support and embed the principles of student engagement across the higher education landscape. The new strategy represents a commitment and aspiration to create meaningful staff-student partnership across the sector.

Click the image to access the NStEP Strategy 2019 – 2021

The strategy sets out a new vision and mission for NStEP, reflecting on the achievements of the programme since it was launched in 2016.

To achieve the aspirations of both students and staff across the sector, the strategy sets out three strategic priorities for 2019 – 2021, which are:

  • Strengthening the value of student engagement nationally
  • Developing the leadership capabilities of students in Irish higher education
  • Supporting staff and students across the sector to foster a culture of partnership

To view our strategy, click the image above.

To find out more about participation in NStEP, please email nstep@usi.ie

Save the date: NStEP Conference 2019

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) is pleased to extend a ‘save the date’ invite for our upcoming conference on November 14th 2019, hosted by Maynooth University and Maynooth Students’ Union.

NStEP is now entering our next strategic phase from 2019 until 2021. This conference provides an opportunity to lay out a road map for development and enhancement over the next few years, broadening the reach of student engagement practices, and strengthening the value and culture of staff-student partnership throughout Irish Higher Education.

You can register for the conference here.

Further details on the speaker line up and agenda please visit the main webpage for the conference here.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at nstep@usi.ie

NStEP launches call for more HEIs to join the programme!

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP), which currently works to support staff and students to foster a culture of partnership across 23 Irish Higher Education Institutions, is delighted to launch a call for more HEIs to join the programme in 2019/2020!

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) was launched in March 2016 by the programme partners, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The 2016 pilot involved five higher education institutions – NCI, WIT, NUIG, LyIT, and CIT. Subsequently the programme grew to include 23 higher education institutions across the public and private sectors.

NStEP supports student engagement in Irish Higher Education Institutions, seeking to champion a strong culture of student and staff partnership through practice-based activities and informing policy developments.

Student engagement is underpinned by the idea that students are partners and co-creators, and NStEP aims to actively embed these principles within Higher Education through its work. Involvement in NStEP requires a partnership between HEI staff and student representatives, with HEI leadership and Students’ Union leadership signing partnership agreements to participate.

The work of NStEP is shaped by three strategic priorities, which are:

  • Strengthening the value placed on student engagement
  • Developing the leadership capabilities of students across Ireland
  • Supporting institutions and staff across the sector to foster a culture of partnership

Why join NStEP?

NStEP operates a national student training programme, led by Student Trainers (all full-time students), who come to your campus to train your Class Reps to engage actively in the quality assurance and enhancement of their education, building their capacity to close the feedback loop and to work constructively towards change.

Once your institution has joined NStEP, we will work with you to develop an institutional analysis workshop that helps you to self-assess current engagement practices, bringing staff and students together to examine the barriers and enablers to student engagement in your institution. The programme offers ongoing institutional support to develop institutional strategies for staff-student partnership. 

The programme also seeks to foster a sense of value and commitment to student engagement nationally, developing our national network events to allow for sharing of practice and ideas across the sector, while creating resources and policy guidance on effective ways to embed the ethos and principles of student engagement.

As NStEP prepares to launch it’s new Strategic Plan, we’re delighted to welcome higher education institutions that have not previously participated to join the programme and work with us to enhance student engagement across Irish Higher Education.

Expressions of Interest

NStEP will be in touch with institutions and Students’ Unions across the country in due course, but in the mean time, if you would like to make any inquiries about this call, please do not hesitate to email nstep@usi.ie or call 0860460526.

You can find a full list of NStEP participating colleges here.

NStEP hosts first ever ‘Student Leaders in Quality’ national training event

This week the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) hosted the ‘Student Leaders in Quality‘ training event, at which the national Student Trainers Pool and a large group of Student Quality Assurance Reviewers were trained up for their new roles – a first for the Irish Higher Education sector! 

Here at NStEP we live by the rule that students are experts in their own learning, giving them the expertise and insight to engage in quality enhancement, governance, and student representation. Our new Student Leaders in Quality event brought together two groups of student experts to train them up so that they could unlock that potential!

Student Quality Assurance Reviewers Pool

The Student QA Reviewers Pool is a joint collaboration between Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), with the aim of recruiting and supporting students to be involved in quality assurance review panels across the Irish Higher Education sector. NStEP has supported the Pool since 2017.

qqi_1The QA Reviewers and the Student Trainers spent the morning together to learn about the Principles of Student Engagement and how they relate to quality assurance and enhancement. In mixed groups they considered the ‘student learning experience’ (SLE) and how each aspect of it related to their own experiences of third-level education. This facilitated a fascinating reflective discussion on how their own experiences were different from those around them and how to consciously ensure they were considering the diverse student learning experiences of learners across Higher Education.

In the afternoon, USI’s Kevin McStravock walked the Reviewers through methods of effective feedback, while Walter Balfe gave an informative presentation on QQI’s work in quality assurance, highlighting how each panel review operates, including institutional review, validation, and re-engagements. We were delighted to have Naomi Jackson, Dean of Academic Affairs at CCT College Dublin, as well as Callaghan Commons, Vice President for Academic Affairs at DCU Students’ Union, to share their perspectives as a previous panel Chairperson and student member respectively during QQI reviews.


The Reviewers were then divided in to groups and given scenarios to consider for each particular kind of review process, and once they had delved in to the detail in front of them, they had the opportunity as mini-panel review teams to question our willing facilitators in role plays. A few of our facilitators would make Oscar winning actors!

“It is vital that the student reviewers involved in QQI’s processes are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure that the student experience is central to those processes. The NStEP training session was meticulously well thought out and structured to encourage each participant – QQI’s future student quality reviewers – to draw on their own experience, to be confident of their role as a student expert, and – ultimately – to be aware of the positive impact that they can have on the Irish education system.”

Mairéad Boland, QQI Senior Quality Officer

Cathal Curry, a 4th year Marketing, Innovation and Technology student in DCU, participated in the training, stated that:

“NStEP training was hugely beneficial. We got to grips with what quality reviews are, how they work, and how best to amplify the student voice within them. I am looking forward to raising the issues and concerns, as well as the positive experiences that students across the country are having in third level institutions in 2019. I think that the student reviewers pool is the best way to do that.”

NStEP Student Trainers Pool

The NStEP Student Trainers Pool is now in it’s 4th year, welcoming seven new trainers from across the country to the pool, who will now travel across institutions to train up class representatives to amplify the student voice and effectively represent their peers.

For the first time NStEP trained the Student Trainers in Ireland, having previously travelled to sparqs Associate Trainers Residential each Summer. The assistance of sparqs of the past 3 years has ensured that the capacity to create a successful training here in Ireland has now become reality.

nstep2Current UCD Students’ Union President, and former longest-serving NStEP Student Trainer, Joanna Siewierska, returned to train up the enthusiastic NStEP Student Trainers, as well as the new Student Trainers from Ulster University Students’ Union. We were delighted to welcome UUSU, strengthening collaboration cross border!

Student Trainers training up class representatives is a crucial part of what NStEP does – ensuring that building student leadership capabilities is driven by students themselves. Having such a talented student leader as Joanna return to deliver a high quality training to our new Trainers demonstrates how Ireland continues to lead the way on meaningful student engagement – thank you Joanna!

The training lasted for 2 days, and focused in on training methodology and supporting an inclusive and engaging learning environment for class reps. EDDKYi4W4AAwDCBOn day two our new Trainers got the opportunity to deliver their own 20 minute training sessions. Each Trainer was able to utilise the skills and ideas that they had learned about over the course of the training, putting them to use in front of our ‘SLiQ Factor’ judges! It was top marks all round – each Trainer demonstrated real talent for delivering engaging, informative, and exciting training.

“It’s been a great experience to come back to train the next NStEP trainers. I’ve enjoyed my role in the programme over the last three years very much, and it was a pleasure to share what I’ve learned and to help the new team develop their skills. The trainers were enthusiastic and gelled as a team immediately. Delivering the content went smoothly and it was lovely to get to know them. I’m excited for the trainers to get started and hopefully to hear how they’re getting on!”

Joanna Siewierska, NStEP Senior Student Trainer

The Student Trainers are now all set to deliver our Student Training Programme across participating Higher Education institutions and Students’ Unions. Stay tuned to hear how they get on!

Our new Student Trainers are (L-R): Stephen Foley (CIT), Seán Whelan (TUD Tallaght), Yvana Mpessa (Maynooth), Joanna Siewierska (Senior Trainer), Scott Green (NUIG), Karolyn McDonnell (IT Carlow), Catherine Kane (DCU). Missing from photo: Zoe Louise Cummins (TCD), as well as Laura Neeson, Grace Boyle, and Niamh Curran (UUSU).

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) is a collaborative partnership programme established in 2016 by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI), and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). It aims to foster a sense of value on student engagement across Higher Education in Ireland, develop the leadership capabilities of students, and support institutions and staff to create meaningful student partnership. To find out more, please contact the Programme Manager at nstep@usi.ie

NStEP Launches Student Training Programme for Autumn 2019

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) is delighted to launch it’s flagship Student Training Programme for Autumn 2019. Since it’s initial pilot launch in September 2016, over 2250 Class Reps have been trained by NStEP. Students’ Unions and institutions involved in NStEP can now book their 2019 Class Rep training sessions!

NStEP Trainers

The Student Training Programme is designed to develop the leadership capabilities of student representatives throughout Irish Higher Education, ensuring that the student voice is heard and included in the quality assurance and enhancement of their education and their institutions.

NStEP Development Day for Students’ Unions

The training programme kicks off with the NStEP Development Day for Students’ Union, where we will explore the concepts of student engagement and partnership within Irish Higher Education. This event is primarily for Sabbatical Officers and SU staff members with an interest in student engagement and who wish to learn more about how to foster partnership between the student body and institutions.

When: 9.30am – 4pm on Wednesday 21st August

Where: National College of Ireland (NCI), Mayor Street Lower, Dublin.

Please complete the registration form here.

NStEP Class Rep Training Registration is OPEN!

To book Class Rep Training sessions facilitated by our national Student Trainers Pool, please complete the online booking form for each session that you require. Before completing any bookings, please ensure you have read over our Student Training Programme Booking Guide 2019.

Students’ Unions and Institutions that have signed up for NStEP may book up to 5 sessions on the online form. There will be two online briefings with the NStEP Programme Manager to give a more detailed overview of the training we provide, to explain the value of the training to your students, and to answer any queries that you may have.

The online booking form can be found here.

You should thoroughly read the NStEP Class Rep Training Booking Guide before completing any booking requests.

The online briefings are conducted via Google Hangouts at 2pm Tuesday 6th August and at 2pm Thursday 29th August.

Support is also available from the NStEP Programme Manager. Please contact nstep@usi.ie with any queries.

Call for Student Trainers Opens

Call 2019 Open

2019 Call for Student Trainers

The 2019 Call for Trainers has opened. We are seeking enthusiastic, approachable and innovative students to join the team delivering class rep training across the country. The work is flexible and compatible with study and other commitments.  This is a great opportunity to develop your public speaking, facilitation and organisation skills.

Read the full call here: 2019 Call for Trainers

Apply here: 2019 Trainer Application Form

Closing date: May 22nd 2019

Follow @NStEPie and #NStEP on twitter for updates and posts from the current trainers pool.


Consultation on the future of NStEP Opens

NStEP now invites students and staff from across Ireland to help shape the future work on student engagement. The consultation document sets out key priorities and goals for you to consider and give your thoughts on.

To respond, please complete the online form here: NStEP Consultation 2019

Alternatively download the Word version  NStEP Consultation 2019 Word and email the completed form to nstep@usi.ie

Response Deadline: 5pm April 12th, 2019

If you have any questions or require more information visit https://studentengagement.ie/consultation/ or email nstep@usi.ie

Registration opens for the NStEP Conference

On March 12th NStEP returns to the Clocktower in the Department of Education, where it was launched in 2016, to explore the work completed by the programme since it’s establishment and discuss the future of student engagement in Ireland. Staff and Student Representatives from across the country will join the national partners to mark the end of the first NStEP workplan and begin to shape the next steps for the national programme. Registration is open until Wednesday March 6th here: Registration Form


NStEP March 12th

Registration is open for the NStEP Network 3 Meeting – November 21st DCU

NStEP Network 3

Registration is open for the 3rd meeting of the National Student Engagement Network. The network aims to bring staff and student leaders together to discuss student engagement, share ideas and collaborate. The 3rd meeting of the network will explore the use of technology to enhance student engagement.

Our keynote will be delivered by Ann Tilbury, Academic Skills Developer at University of Highlands and Islands and Sorcha Kirker Highlands and Islands Students’ Association Vice-President (Higher Education).

We will also have a series of lightening talks, focused workshops and sessions from the national NStEP Projects. Check studentengagement.ie or follow @NStEPie on twitter for further announcements.

Date: Wednesday November 21st, 2018

Time: 10am to 4.30pm (registration from 9.30am)

Venue: Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin

Registration: NStEP Network 3 Registration (closes Thursday Nov 15th)