OFFA reports say UK universities need to measure effectiveness of hundreds of millions in student financial support.
The Office for Fair Access says £478m went to direct student financial supports in 2014-15. The spending was on bursaries and fee-waivers. The watchdog wants universities to measure the impact on student success, access and progression. Universities are working on common tools for assessing bursaries’ effect.
Supports are mainly subsidising fees with loans. Low income and disadvantaged students receive bursaries and fee-waivers to widen degree access.
The report found that;
– 20%+ of institutions did no evaluation. This amounts to £50 million in spending.
– 25% of institutions measured effectiveness through student surveys but not outcomes.
– 45% evaluated effectiveness through access, dropout rates versus retention and attainment figures.
– 99% of institutions assess activities that attract students from a wider range of backgrounds.
UK Institutions spent “£725 million on fair access through their access agreements” last year said Director of Fair Access Professor Les Ebdon. Offa thinks institutions should track financial support’s impact on access, student success and progression. They want “program spend adapted according to evidence of effectiveness.”
Professor Ebdon says “a considered valuation approach” is critical to spending having greatest impact.
According to SEAtS Software Global HE Advisor Philip Henry …
Having meaningful data on student financial support outcomes is critical for institutions, as this report shows.
It is a global phenomenon; differing only with the governance models in use and the regulatory and stakeholder reporting required to meet national and local priorities.
The real challenge for higher education is not collecting student-related data but how best to use it and when.
Raw data needs to become actionable fast, to avoid potential information ‘blind-spots’. The SEAtS Student Success Cloud can transform this raw data into actionable information in real time. It uses mobile and cloud apps, analytics and automated workflows to deliver critical alerts to staff and students.
Platforms like SEAtS make it possible to transform student retention and outcomes. SEAtS also meet the needs of teaching and professional bodies. The workflows and analytics deliver external reporting for key stakeholders such as OFFA and UKVI, etc.