Applying an institution-wide approach to financial education
Maximising impact across a large student population, spread across 4 campuses, is challenging when you consider that a single advisor focusing on financial education can only reach approximately 500 students each year.
Student services teams offer support across multiple disciplines and financial education as a stand-alone subject is neither appealing or essential in the minds of students as they embark on their university life. Therefore it was clear that not only was a more effective and efficient solution to improving the financial skills of the students was needed, it had to be seen as an institution-wide initiative.
• Make the importance of financial education a core strategy/mission of the University
• Get budget approval/support from senior management to invest in external tool
• Engage with and support the diverse demographic of students
The strategic decision to consider financial education as the responsibility of the whole university rather than just the funding team led to a 2 year trial with Blackbullion at the start of the 2018/19 academic year.
As part of this trial a member of the student services team attended events and met with colleagues across campus to ensure that departments were aware of this new accessible route to the student’s financial education. This was a success with ‘buy-in’ from:
- Student Union
- Recruitment & Outreach
- Credit Control
- UWE Cares
- Student Support Advisers
- Information Points
- UWE Digital Induction
- International Office
Once implemented, Blackbullion was able to offer the resources, marketing and campaign support to ensure the implementation of financial education across the university was a success. The University even started to offer the platform to pre-entry and graduate students.
The new Blackbullion invite system facilitates sign-up and ongoing communication with students from enrolment through to the summer before term starts. These are vital ‘touch points’ for student engagement.
The University’s marketing team played a key part in the success by ensuring Blackbullion was featured in articles and website pop-ups on the University’s website.
UWE quickly recognised that students are very much driven by incentives and actively participated in the playbook campaigns including UniBattle, The NSMW19 Twitter Competition and the Halloween Campaign. In addition, Univertsity staff reached out to local businesses who then provided exciting prizes to reward students. These prizes included gym membership, bike hire vouchers, Nando’s gift cards and local cookery school lessons.
In two years, UWE Student Money Service has seen an increase of over 500% in the number of students engaging with financial education at UWE. (2016/17 – 2018/19). Out of the 2,240 users, around 60% engaged with the platform on a voluntary basis.
The increased digital engagement has led UWE to see greater attendance at events and on-site campaigns. And impact has not just been for students, with one of the team members receiving the UWE Staff Excellence Award as recognition for the hard work done.
Overview of Client
Bristol, United Kingdom
29,500 across 4 campuses
New University / Post 92
Student and Academic Service Budget
Student Support Departament
- 16 staff members, comprised of 3 smaller teams: Fees & Funding, Funds and Money Advice.
- 1 full time team member who is dedicated to providing financial education and support.
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