Written by Rosie Neill

Product Marketing Manager

University students Aelesia, Danielle and Suzette share their views on how universities can best support students with financial wellbeing. 

To provide insights for university and college staff, we asked three students from the University of Hull, Nottingham Trent University and York St John University a series of questions to get their thoughts on: 

  • What they wish they’d known before arriving at university
  • What’s working when it comes to universities supporting students’ financial wellbeing
  • What could perhaps be improved

Meet the students

  • Aelesia is an estranged student studying for an undergraduate degree in Politics at York St John University.
  • Following a placement year, Danielle is in her fourth (and final) year of studying International Business at Nottingham Trent University. 
  • Suzette is an international student from Nigeria studying for a Master’s in Business Management at the University of Hull. She also has an undergraduate degree in Law.

Is there anything you wish you’d known about money before arriving at university?

Guidance on how to budget

In Aelesia and Danielle’s view, the most important thing to make sure students understand about money before arriving at university is how to budget. 

For many, money from Student Finance is their first experience of receiving a lump sum payment and both students feel that guidance around how to manage this and make sure it lasts until the next instalment would be invaluable. According to Aelesia, the most impactful way to do this would be a talk (perhaps an hour) on how to structure a budget and advising care when it comes to spending. As well as to encourage students to complete as much of the financial learning in the Blackbullion platform as possible.

I would have liked someone to tell me that the student money you get is not pocket money.

Aelesia Student
York St John University

I wish someone had told me that it’s ok to treat yourself, it’s ok to adjust your budget from what you had before. I was such a rigid budgeter that I didn’t think about unexpected costs or costs just to treat myself and it made me have a bad experience as I was being so strict on myself but not realistic.

Danielle Student
Nottingham Trent University

Explain how things work in the UK to international students

Suzette had worked for some time in her home country of Nigeria before coming to the UK to study for her Master’s degree. 

Although confident in her ability to be financially independent, she found herself confused and her finances disrupted when her job in the UK started paying her weekly – she was used to receiving a monthly salary in Nigeria.

She’s advocating for better explanation of UK workplaces and finance systems for international students. 

There are more suggestions for helping students be financially prepared for university here.

Do you think universities are doing enough to educate students about money and support them?

Increase awareness of available help and resources and how to access them

All three students feel their universities are working hard to support the financial wellbeing of students. For the most part, they think their university is doing a good job, particularly by providing students with access to the Blackbullion platform

What they feel could be improved is the visibility of what the university offers and how students can access support for their financial wellbeing. 

In some instances, students may only find out about all the great initiatives their university champions and the support they offer when they are experiencing financial difficulty. But if students are aware of this from the off, it could go some way towards helping prevent them from getting into difficulty in the first place. 

When it comes to increasing awareness of the financial wellbeing resources and support on offer, that’s where a whole-institution approach can help. 

What are the best channels to use for staff to talk to students about money?

On-campus events are a winner!

Something else all three students are in agreement about is that on-campus events are the most powerful way for universities to spread the word among students. In their opinion, there’s a big difference between the experience of an online event and a physical, in-person one.

The students’ advice is to hold on-campus events and to:

  • Create a catchy stall with lots of bright colours – the more attractive and creative the better!
  • Position the stall in a prime walkway that gets lots of student footfall
  • Make participation simple and straightforward, so it’s easy and not intimidating for students to get involved

Communicate with students through student ambassadors

As a student ambassador, Aelesia feels strongly that student ambassadors are one of a university’s greatest assets. 

They should be used as a link between students and university departments to inform students about things they might not know are going on.

Point more students towards Blackbullion

All three students use the Blackbullion platform regularly and feel it’s one of the university’s most powerful tools when it comes to supporting students’ financial wellbeing.

Everyone should do the Blackbullion learning – it teaches you so much. Especially those who have never had to manage their money before.

Aelesia Student
York St John University

At what age is it best to start preparing young people for the costs of university?

Think of engaging young people with personal finance as a journey 

Aelesia, Danielle and Suzette each feel that young people should be talking and thinking about money long before they come to university. They suggest:

  • At age 14 and younger, start planting some basic money management seeds in a young person’s mind so they understand what personal finance is and are prepared to learn more about it in later years
  • Around age 15 is a good time to start building financial confidence and take a proactive approach, to avoid young people becoming stressed about money
  • Between 16-18, young people should practise how to live as an adult by learning to cook, studying independently, trying to set a budget and starting to think about expenses as they get closer to needing to be financially independent 

How can universities get students ready for life after graduation?

Teach students about investing

All three students are quite savvy with their money and while this doesn’t seem to be the norm among their friends, each of them has already invested in some form. Interestingly, this is the area they feel universities ought to be focusing on to help students get ready for life after graduation.

Whilst the students all have investments, each has had to teach themselves about investing and say they would have appreciated if there was the option to learn about how to invest safely from their university. 

The concern with self-taught investing is that students may be unaware of potential risks that they could be vulnerable to. 

Find out how staff can support students with trading and investing.

I was trying to learn about investing from a YouTuber by just copying what they did.

Danielle Student
Nottingham Trent University

Universities should promote information about what you can do in the long-term with your money, just as they promote part-time jobs etc.

Suzette Student
University of Hull

Ensure students are aware of possible risks – especially of cryptocurrency investing

Cryptocurrency is a particularly risky investment and it’s one that Aelesia knows quite a lot about through personal experience. Aelesia is concerned though that not all students will make money from cryptocurrency – in fact, there’s a high potential for a big loss. 

According to Aelesia, it’s important that any student thinking of getting involved with cryptocurrency has a solid understanding of: 

  • How tech works
  • How regular investing and the stock market work
  • How cryptocurrency works (in particular, the specific cryptocurrency being considered for investment)

Ideally, universities should be aware of this too, as well as the potential risks associated with crypto investing, and feel equipped to offer support to students if things do go wrong.

Learn how staff can support students with cryptocurrency.

As an estranged student, managing my money is the key to survival, which I’d had to learn quickly and I have made a decent chunk of change from investing in cryptocurrency.

Aelesia Student
York St John University

Hear more from the students

For more from Aelesia, Danielle and Suzette, read their thoughts on money management and fintech. 

Or watch the recording of their conversation with our Founder & CEO, Vivi.

Get in touch if you want to find out how our financial wellbeing platform can help you support your students by equipping them with money skills and improving access to funding. Or find out how our partners are using the Blackbullion platform.

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