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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education
Get involved with QAA

To get involved (all links open in new windows​):​

Visit our student Facebook page  

Follow us on Twitter with our hashtag ​#QAASpotlight 

Email our student engagement team
to find out more.​​​​

UK-wide student engagement

The following bodies support and enhance student engagement across the UK (all links ope​n in new windows): 

Wales: Wise Wales

Scotland​: sparqs (student partnerships in quality Scotland)

England: The Student Engagement Partnership​​.


Student Engagement

​​​​​​​​​​​​It is vital that s​​tudents are engaged and involved in their education journey, and empowered to be able to shape their own learning experience. In this edition of Spotlight, we look at ways in which QAA, in collaboration with the higher education sector, continues to develop tools and resources to enable students to achieve this.

Student e​ngagement events​

Quality Enhancement Network

QAA held three Quality Enhancement Network (QEN) events in Spring 2016, that focused on Student Engagement in Postgraduate Taught provision, Collaborative Provision and Postgraduate Research provision. Presented below are synopsis of the​ case studies from the events​.  Full case studies can be viewed by QAA subscribers only, please contact enquiries@qaa.ac.uk if you wish to see one. 

The Quality Enhancement Network​ brings together quality assurance professionals and practitioners to share good practice and experience, and to discuss and debate current issues. By working together and learning from each other, the QEN helps providers ​identify and respond to changes and developments in quality assurance.​

​​Postgraduate Taught

The Skills for Success Unit at the University of Bolton​

Using learning technologies in mentor training for trainee teachers. University of Bolton​

The use of learning technologies is instrumental in communicating and engaging with level 5-7 trainee teachers who work on the University of Bolton's Skills for Success Unit. Through the use of virtual learning environments (VLEs), trainee teachers have easy access to the resources required to succeed, not only as trainees but also as learners. The use of online classrooms, Skype and email allows quick and efficient communication between the Skills for Success Unit and trainee teachers, allowing trainees to network and reflect on their own best practice, including theories associated with mentoring and teaching in general.

University of Bolton (opens in new window).

Meaningful student engagement. University of Lincoln

Making deep and meaningful student engagement accessible

For several years the University of Lincoln has taken a coordinated approach to developing student engagement in quality assurance and enhancement. The University has an embedded expectation that each part of the University should work in partnership with students to improve quality. The University has also established a number of innovative ways in which students can engage across the institution: the Student Experts Network comprises students engaged in seven different schemes, including postgraduate taught students.

University of Lincoln (opens in new window)​

Inducting and supporting postgraduate taught students. Northumbria University

The Postgraduate Learning Model at Northumbria University.

Northumbria University's Postgraduate Learning Model is a support programme running parallel to taught modules, continuing across the master's dissertation stage. The Postgraduate Learning Model comprises four key elements: embracing enhanced induction, academic skills, dissertation skills and enhanced blended learning via the virtual learning environment. The programme is timetabled for all full-time students. The Academic Skills Module is optional for UK nationals, however many students attending some sessions as their undergraduate degree may not have prepared them for a business management master's, such as report writing.

Northumbria University (opens in new window).

Collaborative Provision

Global Community. Cardiff Metropolitan University​

One of Cardiff Metropolitan University's aims is to develop a multicultural community of students and staff, to increase engagement with students across the world. This work is collaboratively carried out in a number of areas including the Students’ Union (SU), Learning and Teaching Development Unit, and International and Partnership office. Initiatives have included the development of communication strategies to engage and hear the voices of students wherever they may be studying across the world. To enhance these initiatives, the SU arranged for visits from SU officers and staff to partner institutions in the UK and abroad, and a Partner Event in Cardiff.

Cardiff Metropolitan University (opens in new window)​.

Global distance and flexible learning community. University London International Programmes

Mapping student voice structures in a global distance and flexible learning community through ‘YouEngage Annual Student Statement’ (YEASS)

The YEASS is desk-based research into student engagement activity across collaborative partners, in consultation with the Student Voice Group. It aims to provide an overview of student voice structures; analyse how these channels are used; identify potential gaps in the way student feedback is collected and used, and make appropriate recommendations; and encourage debate about the use of student voice structures with a view to contributing to an improved student experience.

University London International Programmes (opens in new window)

Collaborative HE provision. Plymouth University

Collaborative HE provision - The approach to student engagement.

The principle of student engagement that Plymouth University works to deliver is that the student voice is heard in processes that support award design and approval, award delivery, development and review of provision, and recruitment. The University works with large well established HE providers, along with small institutions and those new to HE including commercial as well as academic partners. Therefore, while the aims and outcomes remain the same the ways of delivering this need to flex to the situation at hand.

Plymouth University (opens in new window)

The evolution of student engagement. South Devon College

South Devon College is a medium-sized college of approximately 7,000 further education students and currently around 600 higher education students. In 2008, the College was reviewed under Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review (IQER) (circa 350 HE students). This growth was a catalyst to move from a functional approach to student engagement, to a much more collaborative and embedded process. This included the formation of a Student Engagement Framework, student and staff collaborative enhancement projects, and the Student Consultative Forum run by the student body. In 2014, the College underwent Higher Education Review (HER) and the report recognised 'the extensive and effective engagement with the student body to assure and enhance its provision'.

South Devon College (opens in new window).


Postgraduate Research

Supporting and respecting the postgraduate student/teacher duality. University of Greenwich

As part of the postgraduate (PGR) provision at the University, all (non-teaching qualified) PGR students take a mandatory 6 half-day Teaching, Learning and Assessment courses. The course has been changed and enhanced over the last two years in response to student feedback, to align with AFHEA and to further embed core aspects of the Quality Code. These include honing components on learning theory and design, delivery methods, assessment and feedback, and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) delivered on a ‘loop input’ model and leading to a self and peer reflection on microteaching.

University of Greenwich​ (opens in new window).

Interdisciplinary academic community. University of Kent

Creating a vibrant and interdisciplinary academic community for postgraduae researchers.

The mission of the Graduate School has been to lead and champion the strategic development of provision for graduate education and research within the University. This mission has been underpinned by a strategy with six key goals. One goal was to develop a strong postgraduate community at Kent. This has been achieved through a range of initiatives (for example, the creation of a postgraduate-only college, introduction of a University-level PG induction, PG Experience Awards, monthly PG Research Cafés, PG Research Festival, The GradPost, and centralisation and expansion of the Researcher Development Programme including a compulsory cross-disciplinary ‘Kick-start your PhD’ workshop) - all of which have engaged PGR students in the development process.

University of Kent (opens in new window)

​ ​

Good practice highlighted through QAA review

In a QAA review, a higher education pr​ovider is able to receive a commended judgement. We ask providers who receive this top judgement to provide a case study explaining more about their particular areas of good practice, that we share on our website. The following case studies are based around student egagement.​

​Walsall College

Walsall College invested resource to enhance its use of student voice, placing this central to quality assurance ​and improvement. A wide range of inclusive student feedback mechanisms help maintain and enhance the quality of student learning opportunities.​

The QAA review team highlighted the well-considered and high levels of student involvement in quality assurance processes, including programme design and review. The team also highlighted the comprehensive and thorough approach to programme monitoring and review and its use to enhance student learning opportunities.

View the case study: Walsall College: Inclusive arrangements for student feedback 

Reports from Walsall College

Walsall College​ (opens in new window)

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University established a Student Survey Taskforce to investigate how subjects were feeding back to students following the NSS and equivalent internal surveys. They aimed to make students more aware of what their peers and external examiners told the University, at a single point of time without information overload, and raise awareness that the University responded effectively to the feedback it received.​

View the case study: Bath Spa University: Closing the loop on student surveys.

Reports from Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University (opens in new window)


As part of QAA's Subscriber Research Series, we commissioned reports looking at the role of student satisfaction data in quality assurance and enhancement, and the transition​ experiences of entrants to higher education​. These included:

University of Kent

The Role of Student Satisfaction Data in Quality Assurance and Enhancement: How Providers Use Data to Improve the Student Experience
Dr Joanna Williams and George Mindano.

It has been suggested that the NSS has made a number of positive contributions to the UK higher education sector, ranging from changes made by universities to giving students a voice and some of these contributions​​. 

University of Kent (opens in new window)

The Open University

Modelling and Managing Student Satisfaction: Use of Student Feedback to Enhance Learning Experience​
Dr Bart Rienties, Dr Nai Li and Vicky Marsh.

This report discusses how higher education institutions use student satisfaction data to improve the student experience. It focuses on three key questions:

  • To what extent are institutions using insights from NSS and institutional surveys to transform their students experience?
  • What are the key enablers and barriers for integrating student satisfaction data with QA and QE?
  • How are student experiences influencing qu​ality enhancements?

The Open University​ (opens in new window)

Manchester Metropolitan University

Reciprocal Journeys
Dr Alicia Prowse.​

This report explores staff and student approaches and perceptions of the learning and teaching aspects of the transition process of students into higher education. It viewed student transition through a positive lens, aiming to create a space for both staff at university, and students at college, to better understand their experience of the learning and teaching that they encounter in their respective environments.

One of the main outcomes was a film (opens in new window) to be used for the purposes of staff development which we hope could become a vehicle for the development of good practice.

Manchester Metropol​​itan University​ (opens in new window)

Reference points

Stay in touch

To stay in touch with QAA'​s work with student engagement, you can: