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Stories from beyond the classroom – supporting student success

02 Mar 2023 | Emily McIntosh and Kate Cuthbert As their Collaborative Development Fund project gets underway, project leads Kate Cuthbert and Emily McIntosh, share the ambitions of the work and how you can contribute to the outcome.

We are eager to start work on our project, “Beyond the classroom – supporting student success” as part of the suite of projects funded by Advance HE’s Collaborative Development Fund. Led by Staffordshire University Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice (SCoLPP), in partnership with the Directorate of Student Success at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), the ambition is to curate institutional case studies that identify and disseminate new ways of working to show how third space professionals can be used to make a positive contribution to influence student outcomes.  

Impactful ways of working 

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing increased scrutiny over the value of the degree, not only as a transformational experience but as a societal good. This in turn has seen increased use of metrics to measure factors such as progression, retention and graduate outcomes. This external pressure has seen HEIs concentrate significant resources around the pedagogical experience and the direct academic-student relationship. However, there is considerable work being undertaken by ‘third space’ professionals (eg careers staff, enterprise advisors, learning technologists, writing centre staff) that may have a strong influence on outcomes and reinforce or support the work of academics.  

Third space voices 

Our project team is comprised of self-confessed third spacers whose careers have involved educational transformation, strategic project leadership and enhancement activities. Joining us on this project are: 

  • Dr Samuel Dent (PFHEA), Head of Academic Development at Staffordshire University, responsible for over 20 professional service colleagues, directing enhancement activities. 

  • Dr Sally Andrews, extensive experience in project management and leading activities to understand and address degree awarding gaps and has contributed to race equality within higher education. 

  • Jill Hanson, Head of Academic Projects at Staffordshire University, responsible for managing projects aimed at enhancing the student experience through curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

  • Alison Gilmour (AG), Director of Learning & Teaching Enhancement at the University of West of Scotland with a proven record of accomplishment in leading and inspiring academic and cross-functional project teams to deliver enhancement of teaching and academic practice, with demonstrable impact for academics and students. 

Recent scholarly work by McIntosh and Nutt (2022) provides a range of examples of how third space/integrated practitioners work and are perceived within their universities. We are committed to continue to represent and progress understanding about the contribution of third space professionals to student outcomes and so our project’s final publication will provide practical examples of how this type of integrated working can be undertaken for the benefit of all.  

We will be supported along the way by our expert reference group, who will not only provide criticality and robustness to the processes employed but also bring a wealth of experience about collaborative initiatives to enhance student learning:

  • Dr Diane Nutt (PFHEA), higher education consultant and co-editor of the recently published monograph The Impact of the Integrated Practitioner in Higher Education (Routledge, 2022).  

  • Dr Ciaran Burke, University of West of England, Associate Professor in Higher Education who has contributed to sector understanding of graduate employment, widening participation, and service families but all with a strong social justice focus.  

  • Tyrone Messiah, Head of Technical Services, Staffordshire University and whose doctoral research unpacks and explores key tensions relating to the engagement of technicians in teaching and learning and the development of their professional identities within the post-pandemic community of practice. 

  • Professor Jonathan Powles, Vice-Principal, Learning and Students, University of West of Scotland, has had an academic career in Australia and the UK leading several institution-wide programs and services in a wide range of teaching, student and technology-centred areas. 

Welcome to the Expert Reference Group! Thank you for pledging your contribution, we are certain your guidance will ensure that the case studies curated by the project will provide a fertile ground for sector learning.  

Dr Charles Knight, Associate Director (Knowledge & Innovation) at Advance HE said, “This project represents a timely intervention and spotlight on the range of activities that we know make a difference to students. It’s a celebration of the diverse ranges of talents in the sector.” 

Call for case studies 

Have you been working on a project that has been led by third space colleagues?  

We will shortly be inviting colleagues from across the sector to submit expressions of interest for concise case studies for consideration by the project team. A small number of these case studies will be selected via a peer review process to form a publication. We will also be featuring the project work, as it progresses, on the Advance HE website. We are looking to showcase a breadth and depth of expertise and insight, and to capture ideas that can be applied in different contexts. 



Dr Kate Cuthbert (KC) has led on pedagogic design for courses within higher education for over 20 years, experience that has been recognised through PFHEA status. Kate has significant expertise in higher education policy and practice through her national and international role at Advance HE and leading an institutional professional recognition scheme.  

Dr Emily McIntosh (PFHEA; NTF) is the Director of Student Success at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) as Director of Student Success. She is the co-editor of The Impact of the Integrated Practitioner in Higher Education (Routledge, 2022). 

To find out more about the project and to register to receive an email when the submission link goes live, visit the Member Benefit Project Page.  


We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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