The Aspire Scheme

York St John University Case Study

York St John University Case Study



York St John is a university with a real community spirit, a close-knit inclusive place that offers a lot more than a degree.  Its values are people based – “an inclusive, innovative, transformative and ambitious community with a strong sense of belonging.

With this focus, the University has been working with JS Group on their Aspire scheme that is designed to help students make the best of their time at university and to support student engagement.


The Aspire scheme at York St John gives every home and international students £100 a year to spend on resources whilst widening participation students receive a further £400
a year that can be spent on resources and on campus services such as catering and printing.

How do students view the scheme?

The Aspire scheme has been a great success with very positive student feedback and over 98% of students liking the scheme.

The scheme also resounds with the caring community the University fosters with 90% of students agreeing with the statement:  I feel that providing the Aspire funds shows the University cares about my success.

In addition, over 65% of students agree that: the funds helped me improve my sense of belonging at University and feel part of the University community.

York St John University Case Study


The York St John scheme is delivered and managed using JS Group’s Aspire Engage platform and solution and we provide a full support programme:

  • Set-up accounts for each student.
  • Provide a tailored online store where students can check their account balance and status and purchase resources and equipment with their funds
  • Provide cards to students and the technology infrastructure for vendors so funds can be spent on campus
  • Provide comprehensive reporting on how funds are being used


Most importantly, we ensure that students know about these schemes and their benefits.

Student engagement is at the heart of everything we do and we have an Engagement Partner on campus at York St John to work with student services, the marketing and communications team, faculty and the SU to ensure that students have a high awareness of how Aspire can help deliver the most valuable university experience.

Our Engagement Partner also recruits Student Ambassadors to help promote the scheme and, most importantly, get student feedback on how the scheme can be improved.


Gursharon Kooner joined John Smith Group in 2017 having had extensive experience working for a large international firm where she worked as both a regional manager and business development partner. Part of her role ensured that she was looking after more than 42 stores across England, Scotland and Wales. She was responsible for ensuring business targets were met, strategy was in place and she set out key areas of growth for both an individual business and the managers that reported into her. She takes great pride and passion in what it takes to be a successful Engagement Partner.

She is able to combine her background experiences to ensure that she can excel in key areas of engagement at University, whilst utilising various methods with an open mind to better engage students via routes such as social media. She has great relationships with her colleagues on campus; including lecturers, student ambassadors and third party providers.

Gursharon enjoys helping people fulfil their potential and has the common goal to help students maximise their opportunity at University.

Julie Walking Profile PicTo find out more, please contact
Julie Walkling
Director of Academic Partnerships

Email Call