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Producing innovative thinking students through SISA Awards

SISA Students
Dr Pauline Bremner Head of Year Four BA (Hons) Fashion Management and lecturer within the School of Creative and Cultural Business writes about the success of the Scottish Innovative Student Awards (SISA) within RGU.

Reflecting on the academic year it has been a challenging time for us all at the university, none more so than for the students. The SISA programme started the academic year well in RGU being implemented in many accredited modules within the School of Creative and Cultural Business and other schools too.

For those of you who have not heard of it yet SISA is an awards programme from the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) that develops innovation skills in students and issues certificates for each stage completed. With the changes predicted for the future of work the businesses of the future require employers to have innovation and enterprise skills such as creativity, problem solving and the ability to communicate well. Participating in SISA will enhance a student’s ability to stand out in the graduate recruitment market and develop future-ready skills that will open new career opportunities. They will learn how they can embrace the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as innovative employees or as future entrepreneurs.

Level one (Future Thinker) is completed via the accredited module or a SIE workshop but level 2 is completed when students attend a SIE level 2 (Innovation Catalyst) workshop focusing on a specific topic. This year one workshop was held in Glasgow in November with the second one in February.  During these sessions’ students, from many universities across Scotland collaborating in multidisciplinary teams, worked within the framework of the United Nations Sustainability Goals to pitch new ideas for the future.  During this phase, students develop a range of competencies including civic and social responsibility, taking ownership for ideas, working collaboratively and more importantly engaging with the pace of change to identify the emerging customer needs and expectations. Our RGU students made up a huge proportion of the numbers at the workshops, particularly in February at Dundee where 43 out of 110 were from RGU.

From this successful event students are encouraged to apply for level 3 to become an Innovative Champion. 

COVID-19 struck though and we really thought this would have an impact on our applications for this level 3 status.  Surprisingly enough the SIE found that they had the highest number of entries for level 3 since its inception, 12 of those level 3 achievers in May came from the cohort above, making RGU one of the most progressive universities with this SIE/RGU collaboration as we have 16 Innovative Champions this year.

As a university we are trying to grow the number of schools involved in SISA as it adds value to courses and skills development. This is being driven by the EIG and EPE teams and as an accrediting body we now have ownership of the SIE level one RGU accreditation in house. Staff who are interested is getting a module accredited can speak to Laura Ginsberg. Students have great feedback from the initiative and have found this to be a great addition to their degree so don’t miss out.

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