The National Student Engagement Programme

The National Student Engagement Programme was launched in April 2016 by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The collaborative initiative began with two key strands of work: A National Student Training Programme and the Development of Institutional Capacity. The Student Partnerships in Scotland agency, sparqs, were engaged as consultants and five higher education institutions (HEIs) were selected for the pilot stage of the Programme. NStEP builds on the work previously undertaken by the HEA Working Group on Student Engagement which developed ten principles of student engagement published in April 2016. In January 2017 the programme expanded and now includes 23 institutions across the public and private sectors of Irish Higher Education.

The 3 Programme Work Streams:

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.

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.

5 National Projects

The institutional analysis outputs from the pilot phase were compared and five common themes were identified. These themes were developed into projects each lead by one of the institutions which completed the pilot. The working titles of the projects are:

  • The Role and Recruitment of Class Representatives (Led by National College of Ireland)
  • The Design, Review and Delivery of Programmes (Led by NUI Galway)
  • Student Feedback Opportunities, Data and Follow Up (Led by Institute of Technology, Carlow)
  • Students in formal system level procedures, strategy and decision making (Led by Letterkenny Institute of Technology)
  • Staff Roles and Capacity Building (Led by Cork Institute of Technology)

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 also provides support to the 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.