Applying an institution-wide approach to financial education

Background

The strategic decision to consider financial education as the responsibility of the whole university rather than just the funding team led to the long-term partnership with Blackbullion.

Location

Bristol, England

Capacity

29,500 over 4 campuses

Funding

Internally funded

Team size

16

The challenge

Maximising impact across a large student population, spread across 4 campuses, is challenging when you consider that a single adviser 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 nor 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 needed, but it also had to be seen as an institution-wide initiative.

The objectives

  • Make the importance of financial education a core strategy/mission of the University
  • Get budget approval/support from senior management to invest in an external tool
  • Engage with and support the diverse demographic of students

The solutions

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 from 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 way to improve students’ financial education.

This was a success, with ‘buy-in’ from:

  • Students’ Union
  • Faculties
  • Student Money Service
  • Recruitment & Outreach
  • Credit Control
  • Admissions
  • UWE Cares

  • Alumni
  • Student Support Advisers
  • Information Points
  • UWE Digital Induction
  • International Office
  • Wellbeing

I first heard of Blackbullion at the freshers fair in UWE. It has helped me to identify what I should and should not buy so I don’t waste money. It has also helped me to understand what I would need to do if I needed financial help.

1st year student University of the West of England

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, University staff reached out to local businesses who provided exciting prizes to reward students. These prizes included gym membership, bike hire vouchers, Nando’s gift cards and local cookery school lessons.

The impact

500%

increase in students engaging with financial education

60%

engaged with the platform voluntarily

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 the impact has not just been for students – one of the team members also received the UWE Staff Excellence Award as recognition for the hard work done.

UWE students have fed back to me that Blackbullion is a great resource which is informative, engaging and easy use to use. I promote Blackbullion to prospective students and parents who attend Open events. I also recommend it to students in appointments who want to or need to learn more about managing money

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University info

Background

The strategic decision to consider financial education as the responsibility of the whole university rather than just the funding team led to the long-term partnership with Blackbullion.

Location

Bristol, England

Capacity

29,500 over 4 campuses

Funding

Internally funded

Team size

16