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AUSA Vice-President for Education participates as Student Theme Leader

Ondrej Kucerak talks to The Gaudie about his role in Enhancement Themes, Student-Led Project, and other plans regarding student learning

By Mireia Jimenez

Photo courtesy of Ondrej Kucerak

The Enhancement Themes, managed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), are one of the five elements of the Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) which “supports institutions in managing the quality of the student learning experience.”

Currently, two University of Aberdeen members act as Deputy Leader (Ruth Taylor) and Student Lead (Ondrej Kucerak) of the Enhancement Teams, with Professor Clare Peddie from the University of St Andrews and Quality Enhancement Manager Debra McFarlane as Theme Leaders. Ondrej described the Enhancement Teams current Scotland-wide projects: “We’ll be taking forward our work in two particular areas, the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and Flexible and Accessible Learning

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion encloses an Anti-Racist Curriculum Project, Student and Mental Wellbeing and Supporting New Scots. The latter seeks to help “people who become students in Scotland by forced immigration, such as asylum seekers”.

Flexible and Accessible Learning will consist in achieving the recognition of all learning experiences.

“We want to create micro-credentials for people who take specific courses. We want them to be able to show future employers that there’s something they’ve done, although it is not a degree. This will encourage life-long learning that works for people on their own terms.”

The Enhancement Themes also hold the so-called Student-Led Projects, where student representatives and staff from across Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) work together for the development of new policies, practices, resources and networks.

“Here we are working on how to achieve the parity of experience of students in a hybrid setting,” he said. “Students who are studying from outside of the UK are particularly disadvantaged due to time-differences and IT issues, for instance.”

“Me being the lead is a great opportunity for Aberdeen since I get to learn what other universities are doing and compare it with our own.”

One example of this is the new lecture theatre in Kings College, which has been set up to enhance a better learning experience.

He also holds student representative positions in Quality Arrangements for Scottish Higher Education (QASHE) which “is a very direct access to government for universities”, as well as the Scottish Strategic Advisory Committee (SSAC).

When talking about his role in the university, The Gaudie asked him why some degrees can hold more face-to-face classes than others, to which he answered:

“It’s a different setting from hospitality. Lecture theatres cannot exceed a capacity of fifty people and certain staff members and their families can be at risk if they contract COVID-19. Some staff members were quite anxious about coming back to teach in front of large numbers of people. This creates a disparity between degrees.”

Finally, when asked about the maintenance of COVID restrictions, the VP explained how the University is not yet allowed by the Government to open beyond certain times:

“We made it possible for MacRobert Building to be open 24/7 and we are trying to keep the library open as long as we can, as well as to increase its capacity. Soon we are hoping to open group study spaces within the library too.”


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