Applications to the National Student Quality Assurance Reviewers Pool open!

The National Student Quality Assurance Reviewers Pool was established by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in 2017. Since then NStEP has worked to support the pool through our bespoke training programme for reviewers and by allocating students to QQI review panels across higher education.

The latest call for applications to the pool has now opened. Pool members will receive training from NStEP, QQI and USI on quality assurance in Irish Higher Education and quality review procedures.

The Student QA Reviewer’s Pool is made up of students trained by QQI and USI to sit on review panels and ensure the student perspective is evident throughout quality assurance in Ireland. As full members of the panel teams, student reviewers are valuable and valued as part of the process, gaining important experience and insights in to issues of higher education governance.

Student Reviewers are paid for their time on panels and are reimbursed for expenses.

2020 Applications now open!

To apply please complete the form found here:  Student QA Reviewers Pool Application Form

More information about the role of reviewers can be found below. Please read the guidance below before applying.

Applications will close on 6th January 2020. Applicants will be informed whether or not they were successful by the 11th January 2020.

If you have any queries, please contact Oisín at nstep@usi.ie

Student Reviewer Training

The Pool training will be hosted by NStEP, QQI, and USI in Dublin on 21st January 2020. Applicants are expected to be available for this training.

NStEP has developed the training to support student reviewers to understand the importance of their role in ensuring a high quality system of higher education in Ireland, ultimately benefiting thousands of students. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) outlines the importance of the student voice and providing effective feedback. Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) takes the reviewers through their roles on review panels, how quality assurance processes operate in Irish higher education, and the impact that it can have. For more information about the work of QQI, watch their introductory video here: https://youtu.be/oteJZhW1E9Q

More About Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Their functions include those previously carried out by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC); the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI).

In the area of qualifications, they are responsible for maintaining the ten-level NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) are an awarding body, setting standards for awards made in the NFQ. They validate education and training programmes and make extensive awards in the Further Education and Training sector including in the Education and Training Boards as well as in the Higher Education private sector. They also provide advice on recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland and on the recognition of Irish qualifications abroad.

In the area of quality assurance, QQI is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of quality assurance in further and higher education providers in Ireland. This includes the universities, institutes of technology, Education and Training Boards and providers in the private further and higher education and training sectors (availing of QQI awards). The outcomes of these external reviews are published on the website qqi.ie.


NStEP Student Training Programme accepting bookings for early 2020

NStEP is now accepting student training session bookings from institutions and students’ unions for the new year. To schedule a session and find out what it involves, read more below.

The NStEP training sessions are designed to work well in groups of up to 30 students! Here Stephen Foley (NStEP Student Trainer/CIT student) is training up class reps in the University of Limerick.

NStEP has trained over 2,700 student representatives since our foundation in 2016. Each year we launch the training programme for booking in the Summer, with over 40 sessions delivered from September to November. Another round of training is then scheduled for January through to March, depending on demand. NStEP Student Trainers, all full-time students from Irish higher education, criss-cross the country delivering training sessions, which include introductory class rep training, postgraduate taught, and online training.

Find out more information about the training from our call for bookings that went live in Summer 2019: NStEP launches Student Training Programme for Autumn 2019

What does NStEP training involve?

NStEP student training sessions are designed for class representatives (undergraduate and postgraduate taught), with training delivered to prepare and support them to carry out their roles effectively on behalf of their peers, working positively with staff members in their college to achieve change and enhance the educational experience of all.

The training has received overwhelmingly positive feedback since the first sessions were delivered in 2016. Find out more about the training and the feedback we have received here.

Book an NStEP training session!

To book a training, please complete the form at this link. Please ensure to request a booking as soon as possible. NStEP cannot guarantee that we will be able to deliver training on your preferred dates, so the sooner that a request is received the better. If there are no Student Trainers available to deliver the training on your preferred date, we will get in touch to arrange an alternative that suits your institution/SU.

Please ensure to thoroughly read the Booking Guide for 2019 before requesting a training session. It contains all the need-to-know info about hosting the training, including the materials that the trainers will require and the kind of venue that is needed to ensure the training is engaging and interesting.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing nstep@usi.ie

NStEP Student Trainers Yvana Mpessa (Maynooth student) and Zöe Louise Cummins (Trinity College student) delivering training to class representatives in Dublin Business School

NStEP Launches call for applications to the National Advisory Group for Student Engagement

The National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) recently launched a new Strategy 2019-2021, setting out a vision for the development and enhancement of student engagement in Irish higher education. In order to realize that strategy and vision, NStEP is now seeking applications from staff and students to a new National Advisory Group for Student Engagement.

The National Advisory Group for Student Engagement will have a huge role in ensuring that NStEP is meeting it’s ambitions for student engagement and partnership. The Group will consider the strategy and the programme’s plan of work, advising on actions and projects that can embed meaningful staff-student partnership. Members of the Group will be able to shape the national agenda for student engagement, receive reports from NStEP staff, and gain an experience of creating change in Irish higher education.

To learn more about the work that the Advisory Group will be supporting, check out the NStEP Strategy 2019-2021.

The membership of the Advisory Group will consist of students, representative bodies, academic staff, professional support staff, and an NStEP Student Trainer. The group will be co-chaired by the USI Vice President for Academic Affairs and a representative from either the QQI or the HEA on a rotational basis.

To find out more about the remit of the Advisory Group you can find the ‘terms of reference’ here.

We are now seeking applications from staff and students across Irish higher education. Two academic staff, two professional/support staff, and four students will be appointed to join the existing Advisory Group members (see the ‘terms of reference’ mentioned above).

We are seeking applications from individuals who are motivated and passionate about active student voice and meaningful engagement between students and staff across their institutions. When applying you should be able to demonstrate this commitment to student engagement.

There will be four meetings per academic year, each lasting for a half of a working day. You will be asked to review papers in advance of meetings. The terms of reference details the work of the Group.

You will be invited to engage in other NStEP activities from time-to-time, but you will not be expected to get involved if you aren’t available beyond the four agreed meetings.

Student members will receive a stipend of €12.30 per hour, plus expenses.

Application Process

To apply you have to complete a short form outlining your experience and motivation.

The student application form is here.

The staff application form is here.

Applications close at 5pm, Friday 13th December 2019. Applicants will be informed in the new year whether or not they have been successful.

If you have any queries about the National Advisory Group or the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact Oisín at nstep@usi.ie


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