Engagement Schemes

The purpose 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

Universities adopt Aspire Engage, the smartcard bursary solution, as a way to promote student engagement and to enrich the student experience. Universities adopt our solutions as a way to promote student engagement and to enrich the student experience.

Target your bursaries, awards and other funds to ensure specific benefits to students

Ensuring that all students can participate in their studies is a driving principle of higher education. Bursaries and other financial awards to students are a key part of student support, along with institutional investment in student participation and success. Whilst cash awards are important, ensuring that students have the learning resources, equipment and materials to actively participate in their studies is crucial to their success, along with strong engagement.

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 Office for Students requirements and are continually seeking to improve our data analysis and support partners in evidencing outcomes.

Benefits of our Engagement Schemes

  • Our Engagement Schemes are based on our Aspire software platform which enables student accounts to be set up and then used by the student as determined by their university. Aspire supports the back office processes to work highly effectively.
  • Students can be allocated a cash value to spend on an extensive range of educational resources such as print and eBooks, digital devices and technology, specialist equipment (e.g. sewing machines, cameras, medical and sports kit, art materials etc), subscriptions to professional and academic publications etc.
  • Schemes can also be used to enhance engagement and participation by enabling students to pay for memberships to clubs, societies, sports facilities, arts and theatre venues etc. They can also support students in hardship by enabling spending at campus catering etc.
  • We can also assist in the distribution of bursary, scholarship and other cash awards by setting up a student Aspire account and enabling students to draw down amounts as needed over the academic year or other defined period. This also enables HEIs to apportion bursaries to part cash part educational or other resources for their students.
  • We provide an online student store to enable purchases and any other services established under the scheme.

Resource Schemes

Of the students participating in the study, 98% of students were active users, indicating excellent engagement. The pilot also showed that of the 2,419 books assigned, 100% had been downloaded…staff and students have embedded the solution as an integral part of their teaching and learning environment and experience.

University of Worcester

The Strategic Approach to Learning Resources

With the increasing use of blended learning to deliver modules, universities have been investing in their physical environment, creating more work spaces for individual and group study, making their libraries a hub and an integral part of teaching and learning and are now investing even more in learning resources that support student research and study. Covid-19 has massively accelerated the developments in online learning and the need for effective digital technology for students.

Our Resource schemes offer an end to end solution for universities who want to provide learning resources directly to their students. We have worked on major initiatives such as Coventry’s Flying Start (previously No Hidden Extras) and Middlesex’s personal eBook scheme that sees all students receive a core textbook for each module they take (delivered alongside our partner Kortext) to smaller schemes such as Worcester’s Reach programme that provides students with tablets preloaded with content and resources.

We can source your resources and deliver them directly to your students which will increase participation and provide data and analytics on usage and engagement.

The TEF Panel Assessment


outstanding physical and digital resources which pervade all aspects of student experience, including state-of-the-art integration of learner analytics, student support, and timetabling.


the provision by the University of an excellent range of physical and digital resources including an e-textbook scheme, which has resulted in substantially increased student satisfaction.


high quality digital and physical learning resources which are used by students to enhance learning.

Blended Schemes

For many universities the right scheme for their students is one than blends the provision of both funds and resources.

For some universities this is providing students with both – for example providing students with a tablet and funds to purchase resources.  For others it is providing resources to some students and funds to others – for example resources for foundation and 1st year students and funds for students in years 2 and 3.  Many of the universities with a blended scheme started either with an engagement or a resources scheme and have added in new elements to add in more benefits for their students.

Managing Cash Bursaries

All HEPs offer cash awards of varying kinds and for various purposes. For many universities there is a lack of data as to how these awards are used, there is an awareness that some awards are not used for the purpose intended as students have conflicting priorities and depending on the national approach, many students do not get maintenance awards on a regular basis making it hard for them to budget – institutional awards made at one, two or three points do not necessarily help this either. We offer a platform that allows universities to deliver cash awards into a student account which the student can then draw down as and when needed. Students can also have a proportion of their award reserved to support them purchasing digital or other key study resources.

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

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