Gwen van der Velden started out in Higher Education as a student activist in the Netherlands. Alongside her studies she then took on a role as critical observer of lecturers in the sciences. This combination of roles gave her a passion for educational enhancement and after moving to the UK she worked at the Universities of Kent and Bath on teaching enhancement through student agency. Gwen is now Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Experience) at the University of Warwick.
Impact of work
Alongside her institutional work, Gwen took part in the drafting of the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) Code of Practice chapter on student engagement, and undertook research and published on institutional engagement with student agency.
In 2016 Gwen completed a doctorate on institutional engagement with students in alternative providers. Such learning has led her to informing and influencing national policy on learning and teaching with a student focus. Her proudest achievement is the inclusion of student voice questions in the NSS (National Students Survey) which ensures institutional commitment to student agency is made transparent.
Gwen's institutional work focuses on enhancing the student experience, developing student-centred educational leadership and the promotion of teaching recognition in a research intensive environment. Driven by a commitment to Higher Education as a social good, Gwen supports the development of outward looking student experiences which allow students to learn beyond the boundaries of their discipline, expand their understanding of global complexity and engage in student research.
Plans for the future
Gwen intends to look for ways to ensure that in a more regulatory environment students and staff maintain ownership of learning and teaching processes. She wants to learn from international partnerships how this can be achieved and involve as many of her colleagues and their students as possible in developing innovative approaches to authentic curriculum and assessment practices.