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RAISE Committee 2023-24

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Tom Lowe

Chair (University of Portsmouth)

Tom 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 at the University of Winchester where he led the University’s student development, internationalisation and extra-curricular opportunities, staffing and strategies. 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 over 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 (NUS Wales)

Ellie is the Campaigns and Influencing Manager for the National Union of Students (NUS) Wales, working with students’ unions and key stakeholders across Wales to enhance the student experience. Ellie is the Vice-Chair for RAISE, working across the association to develop our processes and supporting the RAISE Buddy Scheme. She was previously an ordinary committee member for RAISE.


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. 


Tosha Nembhardt

Conference Co-ordinator (University of Leicester)

Dr Tosha Nembhard is the Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering at the University of Leicester and the inaugural Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for the School of Engineering.  She has been in the aerospace industry and academia for almost 20 years, working previously at UTC Aerospace Systems and Coventry University in positions of leadership within Research, Product Development, Programme Management and Curriculum Design. Dr Nembhard is originally from Mauritius and started her journey in UK as an international student.  She is hugely passionate about improving Diversity and Inclusivity in Engineering. She is leading the Decolonising of Engineering Curriculum at University of Leicester and inspiring change across the Higher Education sector.  She mentors female and BME students nationally and internationally to stay and progress in senior roles within the field of Engineering. Dr Nembhard is a member of Association for BME Engineers, a Trustee at Women’s Engineering Society, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an active STEM ambassador.

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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 (QAA) 

Kevin McStravock is the Lead Policy Officer (Nations and Europe) 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 holds a Masters in Student Engagement from 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.


Eugenie Johnson

Marketing Officer (Newcastle University)

Eugenie is a Research Assistant in Evidence Synthesis at Newcastle University. 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. During her recent MSc studies, she served as a student representative for the Innovation, Methodology and Application Theme within the University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences. 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 Operations Administrator 

Ella’s interest in student engagement has grown over several 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 has just completed an ESRC-funded PhD at Newcastle University focussing on how to improve inter-pregnancy care for women with pre-existing diabetes after a baby loss.  


James Cantwell

Buddy Scheme Co-ordinator (The Open University)

James is the Communications Manager at the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, raising awareness to  innovative research, curriculum, quality enhancement and enterprise. He is also a mature postgraduate student pursuing an MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice at The Open University.  From 2017 to 2022, James served as a Research Assistant on a project funded by the University of Hertfordshire Learning and Teaching Awards. This project explored mental health awareness training in higher education through a student-staff partnership model. In 2018, James co-organised the TEDxUniversityofHertfordshire event 'Surviving as a Graduate in a Complex World'. During his undergrad, James held the role of School Student Representative Officer supporting the development of an extracurricular module designed to prepare final-year students (L6) for life after graduation. Additionally, he served as RAISE Student Committee Member in 2014-15. James has experience in student involvement, extracurricular activities and buddy schemes, with ongoing involvement in sports-related peer learning and feedback initiatives.

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Ashley Storer-Smith

Students' Union Representative (University of Nottingham)

Ashley is the Student Voice Manager at the University of Nottingham Students' Union, working on all areas relating to Academic representation, student democracy, and student campaigning. Ashley has been working within the Students' Union sector for around a decade, from elected student officer to staff member and external trustee. Ashley has significant experience developing wide reaching student-led change projects across an institution and developing sector leading activity that has been widely shared. Ashley also works closely with Unitu to develop monthly webinars and resources for HE institutions and Students' Unions. Ashley is also starting their academic writing journey around Students' Unions, Student Activism and LGBT+ & Trans inclusion in HE.

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Claire Garden

Academic Representative (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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Faye ap Geraint

Professional and Learning Services Representative (Aberystwyth University) 

Faye holds the position of Student Insight and Engagement Lead at Aberystwyth University in Wales, where she has been dedicated to her role since 2016. Her early realization of the profound impact of student engagement led her to commit herself to enhancing the student experience and promoting a culture rooted in data-driven decision-making. Faye's primary focus is on providing valuable data and insights related to students' academic and extra-curricular experiences. She actively engages in various aspects of student involvement, through participation and partnership to co-creation, working in collaboration with the Students’ Union.


As a mature postgraduate student, Faye is nearing the completion of her MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education, further underscoring her commitment to the field. She has recently taken on the role of Professional and Learning Services Staff Representative within the Raise Committee. Faye's unwavering passion stems from the belief in education's transformative potential and her conviction that every student's higher education journey should be characterized by engagement, empowerment, and ongoing enhancement.

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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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Daisy Bao

Student Committee Member (University of Edinburgh)

Daisy is a PhD researcher in Higher Education at the University of Edinburgh. She has been working on supporting student HE experiences for over 6 years with strong interests and research achievements in student-staff partnerships, student engagement, educational technologies (5G network), teacher education, and teacher professional education. Prior to being a PhD, Daisy was an officer and a policy maker in the Municipal Education Department where she supported the higher education affairs across 44 universities, as well as developed the new policy for vocational education with a team. Daisy was also a researcher in higher education at the Municipal Teacher Professional Education Centre, and has been a committee member in the municipal supervisor training scheme. Daisy has experience in quality assurance in HEIs, discipline design, HE staff professional development, student engagement, and EDI strategy in HE (e.g. curricula, extra-curricular activities, and student-staff interactions). More about Daisy can be found here

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