Written by Vivi Friedgut

Founder & CEO

Congratulations to our friends at the UPP Foundation on their game-changing report, A Student Futures Manifesto.

We were excited to dig into the findings of the report that came from a concern of the full impact of the pandemic on new and current students, with the aim to recommend strategies to get students back on track for success.

For us, there were a striking number of parallels in UPP’s research and our own research from the last two years, not least that 73% of students reported that the pandemic had a very or somewhat negative impact on their mental health. Elsewhere, we saw comparisons in terms of student confidence in academic success as well as longer-term career concerns.

We welcome UPP’s call for higher education organisations to create Student Futures Manifestos: “a positive public statement of the commitments that the university is making to their students’ futures.”

UPP has identified a framework to support how institutions and students can initiate and develop their Student Futures Manifestos. There are six themes at the heart of successful student futures, identified as the collective priorities for the sector for the next five years.

Here’s a quick snapshot into these:

1. Support for students before they reach university

Transitioning into university life is a complex and at times, overwhelming experience for young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds or first in family. While we speak through the lens of financial wellbeing in particular, more work needs to be done to help bridge the gap, to support a seamless transition and minimise drop-out rates.

Our current partnership with The Bank of England and Pearson is a major step towards this. Blackbullion Futures will provide young people with free learning resources to help them make more informed decisions around post-16 qualification options. 

2. An induction into university life for each year of study

Yes! Inductions need to exist beyond the blurry confines of Freshers’ Week. Our research has found that for second-year students, transitioning out of university accommodation into more independent living can often bring unexpected stresses – yet they often go unsupported with this.

Reconnecting students with the support, resources and funding available to them at key touchpoints throughout their student journey will make for a more coherent, whole student experience.

3. Support for mental health and wellbeing

Our Money and mental health: how financial wellbeing impacts students report gave a picture of the impact that money worries have on students’ mental health; 75% of students said they worry about money with 67% saying it negatively impacts their mental health. Across the whole student experience, no one issue stands alone; we believe that mental health and financial wellbeing need to be addressed as equals.

Findings from our new Student Money & Wellbeing 2022 whitepaper, launching on 1st March, will unpack the state of play for the current university and college population and we can’t wait to share it with you.

4. A clear outline for the teaching students will receive and the necessary tools to access it

We found this pillar to be critical for young people, and being able to manage expectations around the entire learning experience.  As with all things learning, underpinning programmes with clear pathways, deliverables and outcomes sets each and every student up for success. It’s how we shaped Blackbullion’s learning features and what we attribute much of our success to.

5. Participation in activities inside and outside the curriculum that build skills, networks and communities

We support this initiative. Across our work we’re seeing the need for deeper connection and community within the student experience, something that was eroded over the last two years. We work closely with student support teams to help them meet students where they are – in social spaces and community areas – to bring that vital human and personal connection into each touchpoint.

6. A clear pathway towards graduate outcomes

Worries about the future are an inevitable part of student life. The financial fallout of Covid has magnified this, with students missing out on key work experience and placement opportunities to support employability. Again, with our financial wellbeing lens, we’ve seen the impact that an accessible and inclusive financial education can have on young people, as they move into the world of work with the toolset to shape their financial futures.

A core belief at Blackbullion is the role of the whole-institution approach across the student experience. This truly shines through with the UPP Foundation’s Student Futures Manifesto and we look forward to the change this will inspire. 

Make sure to sign up to our staff newsletter to get all our latest resources straight to your inbox and be first to download our Student Money & Wellbeing 2022 whitepaper.

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