Funding Awareness: Bi-Annual Report and Development Planning January - June 2015

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1 1. Executive Summary This paper sets out the achievements of the Funding Awareness Team for the period January June Funding Awareness: Bi-Annual Report and Development Planning January - June 2015 It also sets out some key high level development actions planned for the current session to drive improvements in the service we provide, and the key areas of focus to increase our impact on wider agency objectives. Below is a summary of key points from the full detailed report. Key Achievements: January June events supported across Scotland reaching over 110 individual institutions and 6 sector delivery partners. Successful SAAS staff and National Conferences held in January and March respectively. National conference attracted approx. 150 delegates SAAS Funding Guide developed and published, copies for public circulation. New core funding presentation developed and launched (and incorporating new branding) using the more interactive presentation format Prezi. Wide range of stakeholder and customer engagement including Scottish universities, colleges of higher education, secondary schools, research and Scottish Government colleagues, widening access regional bodies, other public bodies etc. 42 Events directly supporting the Widening Access and Participation in Higher Education agenda (23% of total events). SAAS You Tube channel tutorial and information videos refreshed (to reflect change of session) 7 informative videos available 24/7 covering a range of common customer enquiry trends (FAQs). New funding Video on You Tube and SAAS website. To continually improve the quality and value of this service, and demonstrate the impact we have on wider national and agency objectives, the following actions have been identified as key for ; Strategically plan our engagement with institutions and sector partners, supported by the development of a Customer Outreach Programme Plan Develop robust monitoring and reporting processes and mechanisms to increase and Improve team evaluations and impact of service through development of Funding Awareness Evaluation Framework. A theory of change model to explicitly link all team activities to intended outcomes (at both divisional and corporate levels). Develop and implement strong communications and promotions processes in line with agency

2 support internal; and external decision making and communications, in line with agency standard approach. Deliver a quality service, mindful of value for money through a robust set of processes and tools to monitor expenditure and identify opportunities for savings where applicable. Close working with finance and procurement colleagues to achieve this. communications and social media strategies. Using all digital materials available, promote and raise awareness of both the service and impact internally and externally. To further evaluate our approach to targeted support for those customer and stakeholder groups categorised within the Widening Access and Participation in Higher Education agenda. Evaluate the proportion of WP categorised schools we directly support, identify any gaps and opportunities to support/ capture more widely those stakeholders/ customers who will most benefit from our service. The plans as detailed in this summary are on-going or will be launched in the next six month period. In addition to this, the team will engage with the wider agency to develop a robust engagement strategy to underpin the wide ranging examples of partnership working we currently do, and support us to identify new and innovative partnerships to achieve our aims and support those national outcomes to which we contribute. Further detail on all of the above can be found in the attached report. Laura McCluskey, Relationship Manager, Policy and Engagement

3 2. Context This paper sets out the achievements of the Funding Awareness team, focusing on the Customer Outreach Programme, a series of face to face events with higher education institutions, secondary schools and delivery partners, during the six month period January June It also details the range of support mechanisms in place designed to provide student finance information and advice to our customers, stakeholders and partners. Setting Direction This paper will also provide an overview of strategic and development planning that the team will scope and implement during the session to further demonstrate value and benefit of the Outreach Programme in line with corporate planning. 3. Support and Stakeholders Achievements to Date Events In total the team has supported 185 events across Scotland, supporting over 110 individual institutions (secondary schools, colleges and universities) and a further 6 sector partners including national Schools for Higher Education Programme regional branches, UCAS and NASMA) during the period of this report. By delivering informative presentations, group talks, online workshops and open day information stands the team, by presenting accurate and consistent messages, key dates and procedural information, drives the key agency objective of providing an effective, accessible and transparent student support system to ensure that access to student finance does not act as a barrier to individuals flourishing within higher education 1. Communication models for each event is determined by the audience needs. The team, through effective and enduring relationships, has developed a series of support approaches to ensure our customers are aware of our policy and application process in a customer focused way. The range of events, audience, type of support typically provided and general impact/ purpose can be found in more detail at annex 1. 1 Corporate Business Plan

4 Stakeholders As stated above, the events supported by SAAS through the Funding Awareness team has wide ranging scope both in terms of number of students, benefactors and professionals reached but is also demonstrable by regional coverage and through support directed at supporting the widening access and participation in higher education agenda. A more detailed breakdown of stakeholder and customer groups supported by the team can be found at annex 2. School Categories State Funded Standard State Funded WP (Please see section 3) 110 Independent (or privately funded) 55 Funding Awareness directly supported 12 of the 55 independent secondary schools in Scotland (22%). An analysis of those attended in the previous 12 months has shown each has a high proportion of Scottish students, with scholarship programmes based on financial or academic means. For the 12 month period ahead, this has been reviewed and the team will continue to support 9 independent schools through events, offering alternative support to those we will not visit face to face. This approach will continue to ensure pupils in this category have access to the appropriate policy, funding, support and procedural information when accessing higher education. The team mainly focused on state funded schools and in particular those identified as part of the Widening Access programme. For the year 2014/15 the target of 30% of all events focusing on WA schools was achieved. *Note: A full analysis will be performed at the end of 2015 to baseline data on the breakdown of secondary schools supported by funding awareness annually. This will include the proportion of WP schools directly supported by Funding Awareness, with details used to direct targeted support for 2016 planning. Setting Direction In direct response to audit, the team will develop and implement a suite of business area management tools to set strategic direction and activities, ensuring our stakeholders 2 - numbers correct at Dec 2013

5 and customers are supported through the provision of information in a way accessible to them. Aligned to the SAAS Corporate Business Plan, a full Customer Outreach Programme Plan will enable the team to target support where it is most effective, driving wider SAAS objectives, with a core aim on proactively delivering a quality, customer focused service. To support continuous improvement of this service a robust evaluation framework will be implemented to collect a range of evidence regarding the requirements and impact of the team. This plan will, in addition, provide mechanisms to ensure resource is allocated in the most valuable way and responds to our customers information needs. Such planning and performance management tools will include the introduction of a risk management function, a particular focus on widening access and participation to higher education and team communications and promotional activities (in particular raising profile of events and other support tools we provide e.g. Online Tutorials, published guidance and virtual presentations and developing new interactive methods of support). 4. Widening Access to Higher Education Achievements to Date Of 180 events attended during the period, 42 (23.3%) have been reported as contributing to widening access and participation in higher education (WA). With a quarter of all events devoted to driving this agenda the team commit a large resource to supporting sector partners in their task of moving more school leavers into higher education. The team works closely with both WA categorised schools and regional delivery partners (Focus West, LEAPS, Aspire North and Lift Off) to provide a balanced overview of student finance to as many students as possible (in particular those with a social, physical or economic disadvantage when accessing higher education) to support the decisions of young people considering entering higher education. Our specific tutorials compliment this work. This paper does not reflect the specific work SAAS are undertaking with partners to support and increase access to higher education for those who have experienced care. Setting Direction The Customer Outreach Programme Plan will re-focus proactive engagement with WA categorised schools and partners. A scoping exercise will take place this October to assess the proportion of WA schools that we directly support and look at

6 ways we can offer support to those we currently do not capture (be it face to face through events, digital or published materials). A section dedicated to our work in supporting this agenda will be incorporated into our evaluation framework (detailing intended outcomes and key measurements/ indicators) and will lay out our intended actions in line with the Directorate Developing the Young Workforce Programme by demonstrating those elements under the Funding Awareness remit that support programme aims. In addition, the team will plot a clear link between our WP schools and partners work and the Commission for Widening Access, allowing our policy colleagues to link in with this key piece of work. Recommendations and plans to drive our contribution to the WA agenda resulting from this review will be submitted to the Senior Management Team November Promotions and Communications Achievements to Date The session Funding Guide was published in March 2015 with design, content and publication led by Funding Awareness. Developed closely with the Policy team, with wider consultation in the sector, the guide is the main SAAS guidance publication for public consumption, with the design forming the base of the 2015 PR campaign (led by the Communications team). The SAAS You Tube channel is led by Funding Awareness, communicating policy, funding and support and application process information in the form of tutorial videos. Reviewed for Change of Session, there are 7 videos available for public access. Topics are based on FAQ and enquiry trends, covering the following areas; How to Apply for Funding Your Money Bursary and Loan Payments Explained Funding Available and How to Apply Disabled Students Allowance Part-Time Fee Grant Application Help Education and Employment section of application. The You Tube content will be reviewed again for change of session , and furthermore on an ad-hoc basis as evidence is gathered regarding enquiry trends and through customer engagement. The Funding Awareness presentation was updated by Prezi, a more engaging and interactive presentation tool, and has been well received when tested at HEI events. This tool will be transpose into video format with audio and uploaded to the SAAS You Tube channel August 2015 providing an additional information tool

7 for customers and stakeholders to freely access as required. The team will promote through intranet and Yammer internally, and externally through SAAS social media accounts and contact centre. Promotional merchandise has been selected and coordinated by the team and delivered in July in time for the peak event period Aug Oct. Promoting the agency and our new branding (as led by communications team), this attracts face to face enquiry at conventions and other large scale events, increasing our reach and awareness of funding and support. Bulk s are sent at key points in session to promote key actions and dates for continuing students in higher education. Scheduled s are led by Funding Awareness and capture all students who according to our systems, are due to reapply. This benefits the agency by minimising the number of late applications and compliments PR campaigning. Prospective students in higher educations (e.g. S5/6) are proactively targeted by reminding each secondary school in Scotland what Funding Awareness offer to support decision making when considering entering higher education. This is delivered through scheduled s. In addition, HEIs are also contacted on a timely and scheduled basis to remind of support the team offers. These s will be reviewed as part of the Customer Outreach Plan and plan to include additional support tools SAAS can offer. Setting Direction The team will also focus on increasing customer/ stakeholder reach. By working closely with the communications team, a planned schedule of event promotions through SAAS social media channels, use of Yammer and intranet articles and regular promotion of the You Tube tutorials (according to enquiry trends linking with operations), as well as the inclusion of the application tutorial through the new online application system, we aim to increase exposure and accessibility to policy, funding and support information according to our customer s needs. To maximise the impact and reach of our promotional activities on social media the team will include social media analytics in the evaluation framework (currently in development). This will allow us to examine traffic and trends of those accessing our funding information through this media. This analysis will also feed into wider agency analysis of trends and evidence based decision making by refining our services according to our customers needs. The team will also lead on the development of a SAAS Engagement Strategy and agency stakeholder mapping exercise which will support the above process.

8 8 Annex 1: Funding Awareness Event Breakdown University Open Days University Faculty events Careers Conventions Attended by prospective students and their benefactors. Attended by prospective students who are planning on entering a specific faculty Mainly targeted at S4-6, supported by HEFE 3, employers, national and regional training and support organisations and SAAS. Organised by UCAS/ SDS or schools themselves. Information Stalls Online application support Dedicated presentations Dedicated Presentations Q&A Online application support Information Stalls Online application support Dedicated presentations Highly attended events with larger universities attracting up to 14,000 visitors per day. Targets specialist areas of study specialist support areas e.g. Nursing and Midwifery/ Dental Bursary Scheme. Targeted policy, support and process information for prospective students in higher education and their benefactors. Contextually important as presenting higher education (and the support available) as viable next step for school leavers. Supports informed decision making. School UCAS information evenings Secondary pupil information sessions Colleges of Higher Education/ University Articulation events. Typically targeted at S5/6 pupils by schools to advise on university application (UCAS) with information provided by guidance teachers, university marketing officers and SAAS. Typically targeted at S4-6 pupils, Funding Awareness attend schools across Scotland to provide current policy and procedural information directly to pupils. Held by colleges or universities (often in partnership) these events specifically target those students continuing with their learner journey e.g. NC HN students and HN to University. Dedicated presentation Q&A Dedicated presentation Q&A Bespoke support (as requested) Information Stalls Online application support Dedicated presentations Typically attended by multiple schools including WA category therefore far reaching in terms of pupils and regional support. We compliment procedural information re. application process with funding and support information and key SAAS messages and dates to support students next steps. Through talks, we present SAAS funding and support information across a range of scenarios. Presented at a higher level, we support this through issuing funding guides and support teaching staff encourage entry into higher education. Through providing policy, funding and support information we enable students to take informed decisions on the next step of their learning path. Much of this work includes dispelling myths re. years of available funding and more specialist areas to remove this as a barrier to continuing education. 3 Higher Education and Further Education institutions. Objective ID: A OFFICIAL: Internal Only

9 9 Other Events supporting our partners in the Schools for Higher Education Programme, regional bodies who aim support increased movement of more secondary school leavers into higher education. These bodies are; Focus West, Leaps, Aspire North and Lift Off. Dedicated presentation Q&A Bespoke support (as requested) Through talks and information stalls we present current policy, funding and support information to those bodies who support those identified under the widening access and participation remit. These talks include specialist information and present SAAS funding and support as an enabling factor for those considering accessing higher education. Annex 2: Stakeholders Institution Type Audience Type Scottish Universities Colleges of Higher Education Sector Partners Skills Development Scotland (SDS) UCAS Widening Access programme regional bodies Secondary Schools State Funded not categorised as WA 4 State Funded categorised as WA Independent Universities and College professionals Marketing Admissions Finance Schools Guidance Teachers Pupils Parents and other benefactors *Note: We do not currently collate figures on the number of students, support workers and other sector professionals we reach through events and associated support. This will be addressed in setting team direction during the current session. 4 WA Widening Access and Participation in Higher Education. Objective ID: A OFFICIAL: Internal Only

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