Student Engagement

The National Student Engagement Programme (N-STEP) is a collaborative initiative under development by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Formally launched in April 2016 with 5 initial Institutions participants, the programme will continue to work to develop student capabilities and institutional capacity in order to enhance engagement at all levels across the higher education system.

In a partnership model, the programme aims to support institutions in developing processes and activities which support/facilitate the meaningful engagement of students.

DCU will join 23 other Institutions to participate in the second phase of the pilot programme for the academic year 2017/18.  The process, which is informed by the work of Sparqs (Students PARtnerships in Quality Scotland), has two primary objectives;

  • to develop and support the implementation of a student training programme;
  • to build institutional capacity to provide high quality opportunities for learners to engage.

The aim is to;

  • develop student capabilities to engage in quality assurance and quality enhancement with higher education institutions;
  • support institutions in facilitating meaningful engagement with students;
  • strengthen the value of student engagement;
  • develop and implement tools and resources to build effective engagement practice; and
  • systematically improve student engagement across all higher education institutions.

For further information or to discuss any aspect of this initiative please contact the DCU Co-ordinator, Celine Heffernan directly (


Student participation in surveys at both National and University level(s) provides valuable insight into the student experience and an opportunity to enhance the impact of their journey through third-level education.   It is important that both the University continues to work in partnership with students, building on a culture that encourages survey participation, to inform enhancements to the student experience. Student engagement in national surveys like, as well as university level surveys, strengthens our understanding of student needs and expectations. Data gathered informs strategic change and highlights areas for quality improvement, all of which is widely shared with student reps and the broader student body.  The Framework acknowledges the importance of the sharing of results of student surveys with students and staff, and aims to provide opportunities to demonstrate impact and enhancements as a result of student survey feedback.





An ongoing series of informal staff-student dialogue opportunities have been developed at DCU, as a result of its participation in the national NStEP initiative.  Following a pilot in one academic School and one Faculty in 2017/18, the Staff-Student Forums were rolled out at faculty-level in all five academic faculties in 2018/19.  The co-ordination of these meetings are co-managed by the Quality Promotion Office and the Office of Student Life are facilitated by the Quality Promotion Office (QPO).  They aim to supplement student representation in formal Boards and University committees at DCU, and aim to provide an informal opportunity for ongoing dialogue between staff and students. 

The Staff-Student Forums have proven to be very helpful in deepening the effectiveness of our partnership approach to student engagement across all academic campuses as it provides an opportunity to resolve issues regularly, and within an informal setting for both staff and students.

These forums have been implemented across all five faculties for two consecutive years and have already provided evidence of enhancing staff-student relations.  Further, and following a successful pilot with the Registry in early 2020, the Student-Staff Forums will be implemented across all key student-facing professional support units during the 2020/21 academic term providing a platform for meaningful dialogue addressing other important aspects of the student life-cycle.  This framework formally recognises the importance of sustaining these local level partnerships and supports the further extension of this model of engagement