Enhancing the student experience through partnership



The University and the Students’ Union work in partnership to develop a Student Partnership Agreement (SPA) each year.

The SPA sets out the priorities to enhance the student experience and the way we will work together to deliver the associated action plan.

We caught up with Soehl Abraham, Student Council President in Dubai and Kieran Robson Renner, Student Union President in the UK to talk about more the new Student Partnership and the role we all play in its successful delivery.

Can you tell us what are the key priories of the Student Partnership Agreement 2019/20?

The Student Partnership Agreement 2019/20 focuses on the key issues that students have noted need improvement. Within the Academic area, we’ll be focussing on Feedback and Assessment and how these can be improved to better inform students. Universities are no longer the only source of knowledge, so we need to adapt teaching to the way students use their learning vocationally.

Another key area we’ll be working on is the Postgraduate Student Experience. We need to develop a better understanding of Postgraduate Taught experience, making sure that all PGT students have the best possible time at Heriot-Watt.

Mental Health, Gender Based Violence and Harassment, Community Building and Volunteering are three further areas that we will also be tackling.

What are the benefits of the SPA 2019/20 for students and for staff?

The SPA gives students a real chance to mandate action from the Union and University to strengthen the student experience. Each summer, the Union, Council and Association should work with students to develop the Agreement to make sure it is representative of the views of students.

For staff, the SPA should be a quick guide to what students think needs changed at Heriot-Watt. They should use this in every decision made. ‘Will this contribute to the aims and objectives of the SPA?’ or ‘Does this positively impact the student experience?’ should be a question asked at every opportunity.

How staff can help you in your new role as Student Union president and in delivering the SPA 2019/20?

Over the past 18 months, there has been a massive culture shift in the institution and in the way, it works with student representation structures. While many staff may think ‘this has nothing to do with me’ everyone really can play a part. Take the time to read the SPA and understand how it can really bolster the student experience. 

Why is working in partnership with the university and students beneficial for the student experience?

When we talk to our counterparts in other UK universities, Heriot-Watt seems to be leading the way in terms of Partnership working. Open and frank conversations between the University and students drive positive change, improve decision making and enhance engagement. The SPA really champions this.

How can students and staff get updates on progress about the SPA?

For updates on the SPA, follow the Union’s Social Media channels @HWUnion, or get in touch with your President (Kieran in the UK – union.president@hw.ac.uk, Soehl in Dubai – council.president@hw.ac.uk). We’ll also share with staff and students at the end of the academic year the main achievements and successes of the SPA 2019/20 from all campuses.