Established in 2009, Wise Wales was originally known as the Wales Initiative for Student Engagement (WISE). It was a project which aimed to share and enhance the best practice surrounding student engagement approaches in Wales, garnering expertise from student engagement practitioners from across the nation. The initiative eventually underwent a change in name in 2013 to reflect the evolution of the project’s mission statement: to achieve meaningful partnership between educators, students’ unions and students across Wales.
The Wise Wales initiative is a cross-sector collaboration, whose partners include:
- National Union of Students Wales (NUS Wales)
- Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
- Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)
- Universities Wales (previously known as Higher Education Wales or HEW)
- Higher Education Academy (HEA)
- Colleges Wales/Colegau Cymru
- The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (as of 2013/14)
- Welsh Government (as of 2014/15)
Wise Wales, by its very nature, promotes the empowerment of students across Wales in engaging with the structures and processes which enable them to actively shape and enhance the quality of their academic experiences in partnership with their institutions. Historically, the Wise Wales project focused upon incorporating three main principles into its scheme of work:
Ensuring students understand their feedback is taken seriously and – more importantly – acted upon, as well as ensuring there are plenty of meaningful opportunities for students to inform their institutions’ practice.
Acknowledging the impossibility of being able to assume what kind of conditions students want and need to flourish at university; appreciating that students are the experts of their own experiences.
Working in Partnership
Creating an authentic dialogue between any given institution and its student body, which enables both parties to take meaningful steps towards academic quality enhancement – together. However, the evolution of the name from WISE to Wise Wales in 2013 actively reflects the project partners’ will to shift the focus from solely student engagement activity, onto driving forward a partnership agenda.
Since refreshing its mission statement, the Wise Wales initiative promises to be instrumental in guiding Wales into a culture of partnership within further and higher education, and looks forward to continuing to support students, staff and partnership practitioners across the nation.