Graham Gibbs is absolutely correct to suggest that organisations such as the Quality Assurance Agency need to be clear and informed in their student engagement activity (“Looking beyond the buzzword”, News, 1 May).
For the QAA, there are two main thrusts to our work in this area: motivating students to engage in learning and to learn independently, and equipping them with the tools and opportunities to engage in quality assurance and enhancement, resulting in the improvement of their own educational experience.
Student engagement is shot through the core of the QAA. We have two students on our board of directors, a high-level student advisory board that regularly holds us to account, a student reviewer on the team for all our main review methods, and student involvement in the development of subject benchmarks.
This is a fast-moving area, and it is vital that organisations such as the QAA keep pace with developments. To that end, we recently commissioned new primary research from the University of Bath on the latest practice in student engagement. I would recommend the research and accompanying good practice guide to anyone working in this area.
Student engagement may well be getting more attention than ever before but, for the QAA at least, it is not a case of the latest fad. Rather, it is about recognising that, to assure the quality of UK higher education, students themselves must be genuine partners in everything we do. It is not always easy to achieve, but we think it is absolutely worth the effort.
Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education