Please see below the accounts of the research team following our attendence at the Sparqs Conference held on March 31st 2011 at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.

From Esther;

On March 31st 2011 I had the opportunity to go with fellow students and an academic, who are all taking part in this research, to travel to Edinburgh at the Heriot-Watt University and take part the national conference on student engagement.

Throughout the day we all had different workshops to go, the three workshops that I attended were ‘Working in partnership to enhance the student experience’, ‘Advanced student representative’ and ‘Building blogs: creating a space for learning on placement’.

‘Working in partnership to enhance the student experience’ was a workshop mainly on how Heriot-Watt University representative system worked. Their system was similar to ours but had some minor differences. I learnt a fare amount in this workshop and having the opportunity to see how another university is using rep system was quite nice to see. The university has clearly worked very hard on their system however what was quite shocking is that a lot of the representatives from colleges had no rep system which made me wonder how the students got their views across.

The next workshop I found incredibly useful. The workshop on was advanced rep training where the university had accredited the training allowing the students, through hard work, to gain another qualification. The three main aims were to enable more effective representative, develop student’s personal skills and offer a qualification. We were shown the training lay out and I must say I was very impressed. The students were taking part in varied training from goal setting to personal development planning; the university has a well thought out programme. Again, this was interesting to see how another university was conducting their rep training, and having students from the university to discuss what they thought of the programme was fantastic.

My last workshop was on Building blogs. This had particular interest for me because student nurses created it. The students had the opportunity; with supervision of two dedicated staff looking over the work to ensure confidentiality was kept, to blog about their days and how they training was going. The students could go online and upload a diary entry, voice recording or video about their day. This blog was not only useful for new students about to go on placement and perspective students that potentially want to start their training but for the students nurses themselves. The students are having the opportunity to constantly practice their communication and reflective skills, which will aid in future career prospective. Having now looked at the site my self I was incredible impressed with the standard that the nursing students were writing at.

I thoroughly I enjoyed the day and meeting new students who were enthusiastic about student engagement and change was great.