The present Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Theme is Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience and will run until summer 2020.  It considers what information is useful to help universities identify and understand what we do well and what could be improved.  This information, which includes qualitative and quantitative evidence, will be used to identify the issues that would benefit from intervention, help prioritise interventions, and evaluate the effectiveness of those interventions. This will include reporting on the ways in which the student experience has been improved.

At Heriot-Watt, two key areas have been identified that have synergy with this theme:

  1. improving our student retention success, and
  2. enhancing our use of student surveys and the resultant action plans.


Improving our student retention success

To support enhancing our student retention, the University developed a Retention Strategy in 2016. Key elements of this strategy include:

  • Actions aligned with a comprehensive analysis and mapping of contributing issues/factors;
  • Recognition that tackling retention is a long-term project, requiring changes to culture as well as to practices (e.g. recognition that responsibility for improving retention is shared by all);
  • Partnership/alignment between Schools and Professional Services;
  • Learning from the actions and initiatives of other HEIs.


The Panel would welcome projects which:

  • Deepen our understanding of the retention related challenges and issues faced by students,
  • Evaluate present activities designed to enhance retention,
  • Support elements within the University Retention strategy,
  • Explore less tangible benefits of community and belonging in relation to student retention,
  • Evaluate relevant projects which have been funded under this Enhancement Theme,
  • Evaluate relevant projects which have been funded the previous “Student Transitions” Enhancement Theme.


Enhancing our use of student surveys

In regard to work undertaken to enhance our student survey activities, the University’s Committee for Learning & Teaching (UCLT) have identified four questions for our community of students, academics and professional services colleagues to answer.  We are making a call for funded projects to undertake research with a view to identifying institutional, scalable actions to take forward:


  1. How do we know if we have made a difference to students’ learning?
  2. How can we improve the way we use feedback received from students?
  3. How can we use feedback from students as a means of dialogue?
  4. How do students know what we have done with their survey feedback?


The Panel would welcome projects that illustrate:

  • How the impact of changes introduced in response to student survey feedback are evaluated and reported on,
  • how assessment, feedback and teaching practices can be developed in partnership with students,
  • scalability, in terms of the potential use across disciplines, locations and levels of study,
  • innovative methods to close the survey feedback loop,
  • how survey feedback from students is being used to embed the HWU Graduate Attributes,
  • Evaluate relevant projects which have been funded under this Enhancement Theme,
  • Evaluate relevant projects which have been funded the previous “Student Transitions” Enhancement Theme.


Expectations & Eligibility

This call is open to all Heriot-Watt Staff and Students at all campuses.  Proposals for projects that include student contributions will be particularly welcome.  Projects that have a global or multi campus element would also be welcomed. The normal funding maximum will be £6000 per project.  Projects should be completed by 31st May 2020.

In light of the short timescales for these projects, proposers are encouraged to consider if the evidence they seek can be found among existing data sets rather than requiring new data to be collected.


Project proposal submission deadline and queries

To submit a project proposal please complete the application form and submit to by Wednesday 19th February 3pm GMT

Please direct any questions regarding this funding, or possible projects, to Dr Rob Daley (