On 23 February, CEL held a research dialogue session about Fair Access and Widening Participation. Maggie Hutchings, HSS, presented findings and the overall methodology being followed by the BU Fair Access Research Project. Jacqueline Priego, CEL, presented the findings of her project ‘Students who bounce back’ and recommendations for practice. We will follow up on those projects in a forthcoming post on participatory and creative methodologies for Fair Access Research.
On this occasion, Marcellus Mbah, from CEL, shares the highlights of his research on the impact of BU bursaries and financial support for WP groups.
- A study commissioned by Bournemouth University’s Fair Access Agreement Management Group and undertaken by the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) looked into the impact of BU bursary/financial support.
- Financial support from the university was largely considered to have a positive impact on retention and wellbeing. However, a few respondents noted that in the absence of financial support, they would still not consider dropping out.
- Many of the respondents assert that they became aware of a bursary or financial support scheme during a crisis situation. It may therefore be helpful if prospective and current students can easily access information on existing financial support schemes well in advance.
- It was clearly evident that some of the respondents did not find the level of funding adequate as there were remaining struggles. These remaining struggles prompted many students to take up several hours of paid job during term time.
- Although there are merits with issuing prepaid cards with instalments loaded periodically, some respondents opted for a different approach to payment.
- In order to optimise the benefit of financial support, additional support can be administered at three levels, that is, pre-financial support, during financial support and post financial support. Pre-financial support can ascertain the nature and level of bursary, as well as complementary support needed. Embedded mentoring during financial support can help the student with budgeting and addressing any non-financial issues such as stress and worries. Post financial support may address remaining struggles and the need for sustainability.