RAISE Committee 2022-23

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Tom Lowe

Chair (University of Portsmouth)

Tom Lowe is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Portsmouth, where his research includes student engagement in development of education, embedding employability into the curriculum and belonging. Prior to Portsmouth, Tom was the Head of Student Engagement and Employability where he led the University’s student development, internationalisation and extra-curricular opportunities, staffing and strategies relating to fostering student success at Winchester. Tom was also the programme leader for the MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education at Winchester, and has served on the RAISE Committee in various roles for eight years. Tom is experienced in the practicalities surrounding student engagement in quality assurance, learning and teaching, University governance and Students' Unions, as well as student involvement in extra-curricular activities and overcoming barriers to student success through inclusive practice.

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Ellie Mayo-Ward

Vice Chair (Cardiff University)

Ellie is the Student Engagement Manager at Cardiff University in Wales, working with staff and students to foster partnership and a positive culture of student engagement across the institution. She is an ordinary committee member for RAISE, working on partnership projects looking at the whole sector, and looking after the RAISE buddying scheme. Ellie’s passion for student engagement started through being elected as Vice President Education for two years at Bournemouth University’s Students’ Union. Following that, Ellie joined HEFCE knowing it would transition to the Office for Students, to help lay the foundation for Student Engagement in the new organisation and worked on the emergent Student Engagement strategy for the OfS.

Ellie has experience of supporting student engagement within institutions and more widely as part of the regulatory environment, so has a good understanding of the regulatory expectations for student engagement for the sector and how this can be applied in practice. Her passion lies in direct engagement with students, and empowering students to be true partners in their HE experience.  

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John Parkin

Treasurer (Anglia Ruskin University)

John is a Senior Lecturer Practitioner in Education and course leader of the BA Primary Education Studies degree at Anglia Ruskin University Peterborough.  These roles have fostered John’s interest in student engagement.  Before joining academia in 2018, he was a primary teacher for seventeen years.  John is completing a doctorate investigating the experiences of men studying for a BA Primary Education Studies and strategies to enhance engagement and continuation.  Other research interests include the co-creation of learning with students and using student engagement approaches to enhance academic integrity.

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Jill LeBihan

Secretary (Sheffield Hallam University)

Jill is Head of Student Engagement at Sheffield Hallam University, with responsibilities for working with students and staff on representation, co-creation and student voice.  Jill’s academic background is in English Literature and Women’s Studies, and she has considerable experience as a lecturer and academic leader.  She is skilled in curriculum design and delivery, with an active interest in teaching innovation and creativity.  Jill is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Winchester, on the MA in Student Engagement.  She is currently working on student engagement strategies to prevent harassment and to improve academic integrity. 

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Ruta Furmonaviciene

SIGs Convenor (De Montford University)

Senior lecturer in Biomedical Science / Immunology at De Montfort University (DMU), DMU Teacher Fellow, SFHEA, STEM Ambassador and Widening Participation Lead for Leicester School of Allied Health in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, DMU.

Ruta is passionate about varied, inclusive, and inter-disciplinary teaching and learning. She seeks to develop learning and teaching communities supported by a blend of online tools and physical environments enabling co-creation. Her teaching aims to include provision of individual support, flexibility and UDL.

Ruta has been awarded DMU Research Informed Teaching Award for collaborative project ‘Virtual Laboratory for Clinical Diagnostic Pathology’; DMU Research Informed Teaching Award; DMU Teaching Innovation Project award; Microsoft Azure Educator Grant and Global Lithuanian Leaders’ and Lithuanian media award for science and innovation (www.100lietuvosmoteru.com).

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Rachel Forsyth

Journal Editor in Chief (Lund University)

Rachel Forsyth is Editor-in-Chief of the RAISE journal, Student Engagement in Higher Education. She is currently a project manager at Lund University in Sweden; prior to that she was Head of the University Teaching Academy at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, leading a multi-professional team focusing on academic development. She is interested in scalable change in curriculum and assessment practices, particularly in relation to inclusive practice.

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Kevin McStravock

Communications Officer (University of Winchester) 

Kevin McStravock is the Press, PR and Communications Officer for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Prior to joining QAA in June 2021, Kevin served for two years as the Deputy President and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Union of Students in Ireland, Ireland's national representative body for third-level students. Kevin's journey into student engagement started when he was elected Vice President for the Coleraine Campus of Ulster University Students' Union in June 2016, later going onto serve as President of the Students' Union from 2017 to 2019. Kevin is in the second year of the Masters in Student Engagement at the University of Winchester and is particularly interested in student engagement in quality assurance, student partnership, equality, diversity and inclusion in student engagement, and student engagement in governance.

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Eugenie Johnson

Marketing Officer (Newcastle University)

Eugenie is a part-time MSc student in Public Health and Health Services Research at Newcastle University and a Training Fellow in Evidence Synthesis. During both her BA in Combined Honours and MLitt in English Literature at Newcastle University she was involved in the student council and PASS schemes and is now a student representative for the Innovation, Methodology and Application Theme within the University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences. 

Eugenie has a background in journalism and continues to work as Assistant Managing Editor for Cochrane Incontinence, based at Newcastle University. After previously serving as a Student Representative on the RAISE Committee, she looks forward to bringing her experiences both within and outside Higher Education and student engagement to RAISE and the Marketing Officer role.

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Ella Dyer

RAISE Administrator (Newcastle University)

Ella’s interest in student engagement has grown over a number of years. She was a Student Representative and advocate of the student's voice during her undergraduate degree at Sheffield Hallam University. More recently, student engagement was at the core of Ella’s Learning and Teaching Assistant role at Newcastle University. 

Ella is now in the final year of her ESRC-funded PhD focusing on how to improve care for women with diabetes after baby loss.  

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Edward Venn

Conference Co-ordinator (University of Leeds)

Edward Venn is Professor of Music at the University of Leeds. Between 2016 and 2019, he served as Director of Student Education for the School of Music and Digital Education Academic Lead for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures at Leeds. While in this roles, he co-ordinated and embedded a range of student engagement activities within various levels of the university structure, and co- authored publications on student engagement and academic literacies. He is a member of the University of Leeds Student Success and Belonging Research group, is currently a Fellow of the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence, researching student belonging and interactive pedagogies. He founded (and now chairs) the Pedagogic Research in Music research cluster within the School of Music at Leeds.

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Claire Garden

Ordinary Committee Member (Edinburgh Napier University) 

Claire is an Associate Professor and Head of Learning and Teaching in the School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. As well as teaching and student supervision across all levels of her subject (biomedical sciences), Claire contributes to the strategic leadership of Learning, Teaching and Assessment within the School and University.  She especially enjoys mentoring and coaching, and learning from students and colleagues. Claire is a founding member of the Student Engagement Special Interest Group at Edinburgh Napier University and leads scholarship and research focussing on: inclusion; the interface between novel teaching methods and student engagement; and student skills development.  At the moment she is particularly interested in developing student partnership approaches to curriculum development and research. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of the Royal Society of Biology.

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Nicola Watchman Smith

Ordinary Committee Member (Teesside University) 

Dr Nicola Watchman Smith (PhD, PFHEA) is Deputy Director of Student Learning at Teesside University, previously Head of the Teaching Excellence Awards at Advance HE. At Advance HE Nicola oversaw the CATE and National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) schemes and their Apprenticeships service, informing approaches to professional recognition in UK-based higher education. Nicola sits on the Advisory Committee for Degree Awarding Powers (QAA) and is a Co-Vice Chair of the Board of Governors within college-based HE.

 

An advocate for challenging barriers to HE participation and recognition, Nicola is a founder member of the In it Together EDI project and the Sorority of HE Leaders (SHEL). She works to promote meaningful student engagement as a route to student success, with a professional passion for celebrating student voice and enhancing student belonging. Nicola is a published author, with research interests spanning higher education practice and the Northern Soul music scene.

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Cinnomen McGuigan

Student Officer (Open University)

Cinnomen is a current student at the Open University studying a mix of micro-credentials and starting her fourth OU degree. She was the 2020-22 Vice President Education for The Open University Students Association, so she has both recent lived experience and an active interest in student engagement, academic policy and academic representation across the OU.

 

Whilst in that role she has helped support student reps, delivering their training and supported their engagement at all levels of the university’s governance structure. Students know best how to feed in about what students need. She has been actively involved in Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement activity at the university, acting as Co-Chair for the Peer Review Group that monitors the teaching and learning delivered by our Boards of Studies. She is passionate about student voice and amplifying minoritised voices and has always ensured that the student perspective is kept front and centre in all that she does.

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Conor Naughton

Student Committee Member (Nottingham Trent University)

Conor Naughton is an Educational Developer at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) responsible for a portfolio of educational development services, specialising in student engagement and transition. Alongside his role as an Educational Developer Conor is currently a part-time student on the PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course at NTU.

 

Before this Conor was President and Chair of Nottingham Trent Students’ Union and a governor of the University from 2020 - 2022. He represented and advocated for students locally and nationally on numerous issues, from accommodation and mental health to social mobility and fair assessment. Whilst President, Conor led, authored and supported several projects and committees including access and participation submissions, student safety initiatives, academic assurance and regulation and improved equality diversity and inclusion governance systems. He also became an Associate Fellow (AFHEA). Conor is passionate about student engagement, transition, social mobility and student voice and continues to support these causes as a trustee of the British Youth Council and as an external trustee at the University of Salford Students' Union.  

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Ayoola Johnson

Student Committee Member (University of Portsmouth)

Ayoola Johnson is the Academic Representation Officer at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union, where he leads on all academic representation and student voice opportunities. Ayoola has piloted the University’s first Peer Mentoring Programme and has a great interest in student engagement in skills development to students’ sense of belonging.