This year, the number one priority of our current VP Education is student poverty and money management.
Why this issue?
UWL has a non-traditional student profile. According to NUS’s “Pound in your Pocket” research, ‘there are clear associations between financial support policy and practice, student wellbeing, socio-economic background and retention’. The report finds that ‘financial difficulties are pushing many students to the bring of ‘dropping out’. UWL students could be at the centre of a ‘wicked problem’ in relation to student poverty. The university has a retention problem, a disproportionate number of students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, and is located in one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.
More recently, NUS submitted evidence to The Poverty Commission that found that ‘student income across [the sector] is inadequate…significant proportions of students report that they struggle to make ends meet’. Through Janine’s work, we want to understand the money decisions students are making, and in the long term help them to save money and build skills and knowledge to take ownership of their finances.
What are the key messages?
'The Money Mission' will have the following key messages/objectives throughout the year:
1. Help students (particularly parents) balance their studies and their lives without having to worry unduly about money.
2. Help students take ownership of their finances and manage their money
3. Help students to save money
4. Understand the money decision students have to make every day
What is going on now until Christmas?
The project will undertake three activities in the run-up to Christmas:
- Run a competition to gather the views of student parents with the opportunity to win food shopping vouchers for the Christmas period;
- Through Sabbs on Tour and Advice on Tour, speak to students through 1-2-1 conversations to get an initial understanding of the financial decisions they are making whilst at university;
- Share money management, budgeting and saving tips and tools from professional, expert sources through social media and in person.
The first activity will ask student parents a series of questions about being a parent and studying, with a chance to win one of 30 £20 food vouchers from Tesco. You can enter that here.
The second activity will focus on hygiene poverty, and use giveaways of tampons, deodorants and shaving items during guided conversations where Sabbs and Union Support Assistants will gather information about any challenging financial decisions students are having to make day-to-day and worries associated with this. Students will be asked to answer only a handful of questions – this is an initial inquiry before implementing a longer-term research plan.