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The WISE Statement

Monday 20 February 2012 Campaigns News

WISE is an approach which engages students as active participants in the leadership, management, development and delivery of their own educational experience and is a defining feature of further and higher education in Wales.  

The power of WISE is in the collective strength of further and higher education to drive innovation and enable widespread adoption of good practice in student engagement.

The aim of WISE

The aim of WISE is to ensure Wales remains at the forefront of student engagement in order continually to empower students to participate in the enhancement of their own learning experiences.  

WISE therefore provides students in Wales with an excellent and distinctive experience.  It involves engagement at many levels, in many different forms and will primarily take place at individual institutions.  WISE therefore facilitates diversity as well as providing a common aim. 

The cross-sector group

The cross-sector group, formed in 2009, includes representation from...

  • ColegauCymru/Colleges Wales
  • the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Higher Education Wales (HEW)
  • the National Union of Students in Wales (NUS Wales)
  • And the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

The partners work closely and collaboratively with learners to achieve joint aims and goals, reinforce, share and build upon current good practice in student engagement in further and higher education, and learn from partners across the UK, Europe and elsewhere to help Wales enhance and improve the student experience.  

WISE is underpinned by three principles:

  • Working in partnership
  • Valuing feedback
  • And harnessing expertise  

Working in Partnership – the concept of working together for the greater good

Students know that in Wales their voice enhances further and higher education.  There is a commitment to partnership working between students and staff that opens up possibilities for authentic and constructive dialogue.

This enables students to be active contributors to improving the learning environment and, collectively, to be a force for influence and change. 

 To engage students as partners, the further and higher education sector will:

  • be responsive to changes in the role and identity of students in a rapidly diversifying education sector;
  • ensure that all students and staff are aware of their mutual roles and responsibilities, and those of their institutions;
  • enable active student involvement and promote constructive channels of communication to improve feedback mechanisms between students and their institutions; and
  • enhance student representation, including through working jointly where appropriate, to achieve common goals and share good practice.

Valuing Feedback - output from an event or occurrence in the past will positively influence the same event in the present or future

Giving feedback is the most common way in which students participate in the development and enhancement of the student experience.

There is wide diversity in how and when students give feedback. Effective structures are in place at institutions in Wales to gather and consider feedback from students at all levels of decision making. 

This is supplemented at a nationwide level by student involvement and representation at senior decision-making fora of sector bodies and agencies.

The further and higher education sector will build on the approach through:

  • diversifying, and seeking continually to enhance, the ways in which students are consulted on and involved with decisions about developments in their learning;
  • identifying and sharing effective practice to enable its broader uptake;
  • using the outcomes of surveys and reviews to improve engagement and enhance the whole student experience;
  • increasing and enhancing the opportunities for students to contribute fully to quality reviews and audit processes;
  • providing students with clear information on how their feedback has been used and addressed; and
  • using innovative means of communication and feedback mechanisms to support the needs of a diverse student body.

Harnessing Expertise – to control and use something or someone of extensive knowledge, ability or experience 

The focus of student engagement is to enhance the quality of learning for current and future generations of students.

Students are best placed to know what they want when it comes to their own learning and experiences and needs.

They know how they have reached their learning outcomes, how the teaching has assisted them in this process and how different approaches have affected their success in different contexts. 

WISE embodies a culture where students are treated as expert contributors to the student experience, with strong leadership and a positive attitude both from staff and students. 

To support the WISE approach, the further and higher education sector will:

  • enable wider take-up of good practice, including sharing guidance handbooks, policies and strategies for student representation and engagement;
  • enable students to become fully involved in external review processes; and
  • develop effective means of showing students how their expert contributions have effected change.