The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) awards have now been published and JS Group was very encouraged to see that a number of universities had highlighted the positive impact that their Aspire
schemes have on student engagement and outcomes.
Commenting on this, Peter Gray, Chairman and CEO of JS Group, said:
Our mission is to deliver better educational outcomes for universities and their students. We work with a number of universities who have adopted our Aspire platform either to deliver learning resources directly to students or to manage cashless bursaries. All these Aspire schemes are designed to drive student engagement and to support student learning and it is great to see them highlighted and acknowledged in TEF submissions.
Some examples from TEF submissions included:
Anglia Ruskin University – TEF Silver award
Anglia Ruskin offers a number of schemes to support students and an example of this is our Books Plus Scheme. This programme gives every HEFCE countable UG student £400 per annum to be used
via our partner John Smith’s for study resources, our SU or through Anglia Ruskin Sports for a range of activities. The scheme is designed to provide support for student learning and engagement. Feedback from students showed that 86% felt that they would have struggled to buy texts without Books Plus, and 94% said the scheme helped support their studies. 70% said that the funds were sufficient to purchase all of their learning materials (2015/16 Books Plus survey).
Coventry University – TEF Gold award
Since September 2012, the No Hidden Extras initiative has been a major financial investment by the University to support students in their learning. All new undergraduates joining Coventry
University and CU London are provided with a course specific start up package, including relevant textbooks or support materials (e.g. professional subscriptions, software licences etc.) and a large
number of printing credits. In addition, any mandatory UK site visits and trips are included in the package. We make a commitment to students that they can all benefit from course enrichment
activities including industrial visits, field trips and international visits, irrespective of background. The No Hidden Extras Grant is an additional grant to enable students to undertake an international travel
or UK placement during their course of study. We know that these opportunities are beneficial to student success as graduates. In total, we spent just under £6.6m across the group on course specific
packages including the No Hidden Extras initiative and international experience grants (£1,455,198). In 2015/16 the number of students supported to undertake an overseas visit or trip was 3,158 and
over 12,000 students engaged in international activities, with the resulting positive impact on their employability outcomes.
Middlesex University – TEF Silver award
During this period LSS has carefully examined the NSS return, including the free text comments, and explored ways of addressing both general concerns and specific issues for groups of students
studying a particular programme. Much of this work has explored the opportunities afforded by technology, including dedicated e-books for all students, as well as a student-focused review of
reading lists, including a move to including multi-media, and the availability of free printing for academic purposes. This eTextbook Scheme allows students to access core learning materials where
and when they choose by providing a free e-book for life for each module studied. The scheme is supported by a programme developing students’ digital skills and also feeds into the wider student
engagement data used by the Progression and Support team (see above). A longitudinal study is underway to compare entry tariff points and final degree outcomes based on engagement with eTextbooks. The scheme was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award in 2016.
University of Worcester – TEF Silver award
In this academic year, we have piloted the ‘Reach’ scheme, whereby first year students are provided with a tablet pre-loaded with course core texts and other learning materials. The intention is to
support student engagement through the development of interactive technology-enhanced learning strategies and online learning communities. The initial pilot of 350 students across three courses is
receiving excellent feedback and having a very positive impact on teaching and learning. As a result, we will extend the scheme to three more large academic cohorts for 2017/18.
University of Greenwich – TEF Silver award
An example of our support for these students once they are part of the University community is our Aspire@Greenwich card which is used to deliver some of our scholarships and bursaries. It is very
popular with students: 91% agreed/strongly agreed that the scheme helped support their studies; 80% advised that it helped them perform better in their modules as they could buy more books; 81% advised that they would have struggled to buy all their textbooks without the scheme; and 89% agreed/strongly agreed that the funds helped them to get the products that they needed for their studies. UoG provides access to a range of specialised support, a comprehensive range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities, and, above, all, a learning experience characterised by excellence. This allows mature students, those with disabilities, and those from lower income families to progress as well as their peers at Greenwich.