Welcome to all new applicants to Sparsholt College. The past academic year was a bit of a ‘watershed’ year for the College, in that we had three events that will continue to shape Higher Education at the college for years to come – and they all involved students.

September 2014 saw the first Masters Degree students enrolling at Sparsholt College. Last year we validated the MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training programme with the University of Portsmouth. It’s a true testament of the University’s confidence in the academic rigour of Sparsholt College’s HE provision that we’ve passed the rigorous processes required to provide teaching and research facilities for postgraduate students. In September 2015, we will also be recruiting for MSc Applied Aquaculture and Sport Fisheries. Feedback from our students was an integral part of the validation process.

In January 2014 we had our every-6-year Partnership and Programme Review with the University of Portsmouth who validate our Higher Education programmes. It was a point in time to take stock of our relationship with the University and I’m pleased to report that the University continues to proudly support the academic quality and educational standards of the College. Again, students were part of the review.

Finally, in March the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) came to Sparsholt for the Higher Education Review (HER). HE reviews take place every 5 or 6 years and is something like ‘Ofsted for Higher Education’; BUT there are some big differences between Ofsted and QAA. If the QAA wanted to know what the teaching was like at Sparsholt, they didn’t come sit in on classes – they asked you what you thought. They also asked you how you contributed to the academic quality of the College’s provision. The QAA found, as a special point noted as good practice, “the numerous ways in which the College has systematically fostered engagement with students to enhance the quality of learning opportunities”.

How can you continue the tradition of student participation in the quality enhancement of your courses?

It can be as simple as voting for your class representative that will attend the HE Student Council and Learner Voice meetings – or volunteering to represent your course. (Student Council meetings are open to all HE students and we particularly encourage 1st year students who are considering volunteering as Course Reps to attend the 1st meeting). It could also be as simple as participating in College surveys and, for final year students, the National Student Survey (NSS).

I look forward to working with our entire HE student body to show everyone what a high quality experience Sparsholt College offers!

Barb Coulson  Higher Education Development and Quality Manager