Wise Wales – Creating meaningful partnership

The Wales Initiative for Student Engagement (WISE) was first established in 2009 as an initiative for sharing best practice in student engagement approaches in Wales.

In 2014 the higher education sector in Wales launched the Partnership for Higher Education in Wales statement, making Wales the first UK nation to agree on a cross-sector commitment to partnership. The initiative also underwent a change of name to reflect the evolution of the mission statement, which is to achieve meaningful partnership between educators, students’ unions and students across Wales.

The new Wise Wales project is a cross-sector collaboration whose partners include:

  • National Union of Students Wales (NUS Wales)
  • Universities Wales
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)
  • Colleges Wales / Colegau Cymru
  • Welsh Government
  • Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Wise Wales is funded through contributions from HEFCW, QAA, nine higher education institutions, Welsh Government, and Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

Some of Wise Wales’ key areas of work for 2015/16 are outlined below:

Tailored action plans

Wise Wales works with every HE institution and students’ union in Wales, supporting them with their priorities surrounding student partnership and engagement throughout the year. For example, priorities could include engaging with stay at home students, involving students in curriculum design or embedding Annual Quality Reports. ­

Partnership statements

Alongside the tailored support programme, there is also additional support available to all HE institutions and students’ unions to create and develop and/or review their partnership statements.

HE Staff Partnership Network

Launched in June 2015, the HE Staff Partnership Network offers staff members who have responsibility for student partnership and engagement the opportunity to explore ideas for developing and embedding practices at their institutions, and discuss any challenges they face in their roles. Staff can also benefit from sessions with guest speakers from across the UK in areas of interest as identified by the network.

Annual Conferences

The Course Representative Conference, held in February each year, provides an opportunity for course representatives to develop their skills and knowledge, whilst discussing their ideas and experiences with students from across Wales.

The Partnership for Wales Conference, held in May, focuses on sharing good practice and experiences across the sector, and provides staff and student officers with the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars on topical themes within student partnership.

Peer Review Programme

The Peer Review Programme is designed to allow institutions to work in pairs to review each other’s practices in an area of mutual interest within student partnership so that they can offer each other advice and work together to develop their work in that area.

Pathways to Partnership for Further Education

Wise Wales works across both HE and FE in Wales, and is this year supporting the FE institutions to self-assess their current learner involvement activities and structures using a diagnostic toolkit. Additional support is then offered to colleges to improve these activities and structures based on the outcomes of the diagnostic process.

Contact details

Jessica Rumble, Lead Consultant – Wise Wales: jessica.rumble@nus-wales.org.uk

Dan Roberts, Wise Wales Co-ordinator: daniel.roberts@nus-wales.org.uk

Website: www.wisewales.org.uk

Twitter: @Wise_Wales / @Wise_Cymru