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Experience of Institutional Review - PG Vice-Convenor

Tue 15 Dec 2015

On the 9th November, I was one of the nine students who attended the Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) to represent the Postgraduate students of the University. The ELIR is a crucial stage in the continual improvement and advancement of the University, and is led by impartial reviewers to gather feedback on certain aspects of University life. This is then collated and fed back to the staff at the University to enable them to make improvements, but it also highlights elements that work well and that students are already happy with. Prior to the review, we all attended a briefing session to get to meet each other and prepare for the types of questions we may be asked in the review. Each of us was from a different course and school, from taught and research degrees, there was a distance learning student, and we were all of different ages and nationalities. I do not think there could have been a better representation of the Postgraduate student body. The review itself was quite formal, and the panel consisted of seven reviewers from the Quality Assurance Agency. They covered several subjects including EUSA, distance learning, and even the Edinburgh Award itself. The nine student representatives were all forthcoming in our answers to questions put to us. Several issues were highlighted, some of them school specific (I myself raised concerns I had for the music dept), others more broadly felt (there was a general consensus that the Personal Tutor system could be improved upon). We also spoke about areas that we felt worked well. I found this a really enlightening opportunity: not only did it let me represent other Postgraduate students, but it let me hear about the other schools and courses, and let me meet other students who - like myself - wanted to contribute to the ongoing development of the University. On the 19th November we were emailed to let us know the outcome of the ELIR, and it was great to read that the University had been awarded the judgement of 'effectiveness' - the best possible outcome of the review.

Welcome to the Edinburgh College of Art Representation page.

Here you will find useful information about ECA’s student representation system.

First of all, let us introduce you to your School Representatives. Each School has two School Reps whose role is to listen to you and bring any issues you raise to the relevant staff and committee meetings, such as the Student-Staff Liaison Committee or your School Council. In ECA, the Undergraduate School Representative is Michelle Wolodarsky Newhall and the Postgraduate School Representative is Tommaso Zerbi. Feel free to get in touch with them if you feel that you have something important to say to the School! Your School also contains Class Representatives who work very closely with the School Representatives, EUSA and the staff to ensure you make the most out of your courses. Potential areas Class Reps may engage with are issues with feedback, course content, and suitability of assessment.


Last year, the Representatives created the ECA Club, a new representation infrastructure that enabled them to liaise with a number of student societies and work on important issues with other students. One of the main topics of the year was the 24h studio access problem and the use of the Wee Red Bar.


Alongside the EUSA website it is possible to stay up to date with news and developments on the ECA Intranet. Here you will be able to see any key issues that we're working on as well as have your say via discussion boards. To visit the Intranet and find out more follow this link:

You may be prompted to log in order to access the site and you can find out how to do this by following the instructions on this document:

However please note that certain areas of the Intranet may only be accessible to ECA Students. 


We are currently developing the peer support provision across ECA. If you are interested in getting involved please contact Katie Scott at


Music continues to use the Academic Families as peer support. Academic families allow for cross-year collaboration and give new students the chance to receive support and guidance from their peers. The Families also very quickly allow Music students to feel part of their own community at the University.

History of Art hold Autonomous Learning Groups (ALGs) for their students every week, alongside tutorials to discuss the week’s lecture topics. The ALGs are part of the curriculum and receive positive feedback from the students.

In addition to the ALGs, there has been a recent formation of the History of Art Society, which has been entirely student led. This has seen lots of peer support initiatives develop through requests from student members, such as revision groups, writing workshops, and a careers event.

Art continue to hold student-led critiques, which groups students across years in reflecting upon formative assessment and how it is acted upon. These student-led crits take place after the first 5 weeks to allow for reflective discussion on work done to date. Student feedback has been very positive, and the attendance of students has grown this year.

For many years, programmes in Design have integrated peer support within their curriculum through the extensive use of vertical teaching.  For example, Graphic Design is home to the Design Agency project, which was the winner of the Guardian University Awards 2013 award for Employability Initiatives. This dynamic learning experience incorporates the style of a variety of peer support models and is a working student-led business, in which students across years 1 to 4 apply for a role in whichever Agency they are interested in being a part of.

ECA’s Fashion Show, a showcase for the work of graduating students in Fashion, Performance Costume and Textiles also highlights the use of vertical teaching as a form of embedded peer support.  Students across pre-honours are allocated to act as support for final year students in preparation of their final collections. In the process, these pre-honours students are actively working on courses which allow them to reflect on their experiences of working, including an opportunity to receive critical feedback on their abilities and approaches from their final year colleagues.  A similar format is also employed by the Film and TV programme.

ESALA continue to use the Studio as both a physical space and as a peer support activity, in which 3rd and 4th year students are recruited to participate in 1st year crits and are directly involved in peer learning. This activity has proven to be successful and popular in previous years and continues to be an integrated aspect of the ESALA curriculum. In fact, a buddy system has been established as part of the project.

In addition, the Edinburgh University Student Architecture Society (EUSAS) has been a great source of peer support activity for ESALA. This includes: Design Day, which is a Fresher’s Week activity, aimed at introduction and integration to the School and the subject; a guest lecture series that runs through the academic year; and purely social events such as the Christmas Ceilidh, and the End of Year Ball. Meanwhile E-Scape, the Landscape Architecture Society, is for anyone with an interest in landscape architecture, urban design, garden design, sustainability, art and ecology


As part of the Widening Participation initiative across the School, ECA are taking part in the Peer Mentoring scheme for the first time this year, which is in addition to the more subject-specific peer support initiatives being run. With the assistance of the Widening Participation team, ECA have been able to offer some of their first year students the assistance of a mentor this year, which they hope to expand on in the coming years.

For further information on any of these schemes please contact


If you believe something is missing from this page, please contact

Undergraduate School Representative