The amount that was included in Flying Start really did make a massive difference during my studies. The available equipment, resources and trip allowances are tailored depending on the type of course you study. To be honest, these extras became an important factor for myself and other course mates when deciding on their university and choice of course.
Media and Communications graduate, Coventry University
Engagement and Resources schemes are an important part of the overall package of financial and learning support that are offered to prospective and new students. In surveys, over 80% of students on these schemes would recommend their university to friends.
For students starting in 2017 we will be offering an on-course support package as opposed to the cash bursaries we have allocated in previous years. Under the new scheme, which we plan to deliver via ‘smart card’, eligible students will receive a ‘cash credit’ which they will be able to spend on items which directly support their learning and achievement. For example, on: books; stationary; specialist equipment; or on other areas which support their employability. We believe this will enable us to enhance our student success and retention rates by targeting support more effectively.
York St John University
Improving retention rates is a common goal of universities and one of the main drivers behind introducing an engagement or resources scheme. These schemes drive student engagement and this in turn leads to better retention. As part of an overall strategy to improve progression rates, universities with these schemes see measurable improvements and sometimes the results are dramatic as when University of East London reduced drop-out rates by 50%.
I found the tablet really useful in lectures to download PowerPoints and lecture information and then annotate my notes as the lecture is being given. Because the tablet is small and light, I bring it to uni every day, whereas if I just had a laptop I wouldn't. I use blackboard a lot on it and my uni emails.
Student, University of Worcester
The purpose of Books Plus is to support students with the cost of study resources and to encourage student engagement and a sense of belonging.
Director of Student Services, Anglia Ruskin University
Whether it’s reducing barriers to enable access to key learning resources, being guided to the best resources via recommendations by academics, or being able to join in with more on campus extra-curricular and social activities, Engage Schemes can support and encourage engagement as well as enrich the student experience. Universities that have implemented Engage Schemes have seen significant increases in engagement rates and their NSS approval ratings.
The eTextbook project is the largest single student experience project at Middlesex. Whilst the investment may be high, the return is phenomenal. The project enhances our digital proposition, engages students more actively, helps drive achievement targets.
CFO, Middlesex University
Driving achievement targets and helping students with the cost of study are two benefits of Aspire solutions. In surveys, over 85% of students agree that Aspire Engage bursaries have helped with the cost of study and, more importantly, had helped them achieve better grades. Aspire Connect places learning resources directly into the hands students and allows lecturers to plan module and course delivery knowing all students have access to key resources.
The tablets have been invaluable in that we have been able to use whatever room we happen to be in - and also we can intersperse legal research in any lesson without having to book a computer lab. It is also helpful that everyone has the same device. Sessions have been more flexible and more engaging and interactive than I have ever given without the tablets.
Head of Law, University of Worcester
In addition, there is data from Aspire solutions that shows a positive correlation between student engagement with learning resources and progression and final degree outcomes.
For many years we have worked with partner universities as part of their Access Agreements and Access and Participation Plans. We are very alert to OfS requirements and are continually seeking to improve our data analysis and support partners in evidencing outcomes.
Knowing what students need enables us to ensure that we can source the right products and right services at the right price. We cant always “beat” amazon on every product all the time, but we are totally committed to delivering the best value we can. When students use their awards to get their core resources or other tools they need to study they can be sure that we work tirelessly to deliver at the right price.
For many of our schemes, bundles of goods and services are provided to students and in this area we simply cannot be beaten.
Our goal is to continually provide the best value and best service.
A lot of our time is helping university partners get the best value for money from their investment in students. This will invariably fall into one of the following categories:
- Helping universities “reduce” the overall cost of their investment in either real £ spent or overheads incurred without any reduction in the “benefit ” to students
- Supporting with evidence on the timing of awards (students have the greatest need for the core things they need to succeed in September) whilst minimising the cash risk
- Providing clear support on the value needed to achieve results. Cash, although attractive from an individual perspective, does not, in our experience, give the greatest return, especially if it cannot be measured.
Once cash awards are given, the entire amount is gone from a cashflow perspective. Awards in engagement schemes only pay when the student takes the benefit. This enables students to plan their expenditure to match their needs and supports institutional cashflow.