Those of you following the #stu_1st blogging closely or our Twitter account will have seen that last week was Project Board time. We were delighted to welcome Professor Sir Deian Hopkin as an independent chair for the group, reminding us of the truly wide interest in delivering bursaries in the most efficient way possible to support the student experience.
My love of post it notes became apparent as once again we took the journey through benefits realisation. The list of benefits already achieved and to be achieved were startlingly similar to those we blogged about back in December – but the vehemence and strength of feeling about their importance was much greater. For today’s blog, I revisit the benefits discussed in December and update on them.
The board in particular noted the unique blend of commercial, HEI and national working embodied in this project. Whilst that brings with it coordination challenges and some lengthy negotiations, it is also a very significant departure in project approaches that all in the room felt to be a significant departure that will really benefit the sector in its widest sense.
So, what did we say before, and what did we say this time?
• Linking to national priorities including the efficiency agenda and AMOSSHE’s Value and Impact work
Discussed and recognised again; also the unintended consequences of the work in its timeliness and feeding into national policy discussions around student support
• Contributing to an evidence base to inform HE policy
Discussed and recognised again – in addition, working across groups with a national body coordinating provides scrutiny to the emergent findings at a sector wide level
• Informing strategic thinking at partner organisations
Discussed and recognised again – alongside the credibility that this project gives that strategic thinking, and the improved links between groups. Knowing who to speak to and when has become much easier.
• Opportunities for related research
Lots of ideas about how this work might carry on – both around widening participation, financial information, and technology blending. One very specific idea for the potential to benchmark similar research in future across like institutions
• Being able to demonstrate the impact of a research project very quickly
Discussed and recognised again – that similar to the first benefit of linking to national priorities, this work was timely and its findings could be very quickly used. Not only that, the service design mapping process has already led to institutions addressing fail points in their bursary systems
• Verification and refinement of providers’ perception of market need
Discussed and recognised again – with recognition that this experience will be invaluable in developing future projects and working with other HE partners
• Identifying and making available new possibilities for inclusive models of interaction between private providers and HEIs, and data collection
Discussed and recognised again – with one partner recommending that this model of interaction makes the project truly beneficial, and should be considered for future working
• Adding levels of understanding to commercial data
Discussed and recognised again – with some detailed discussion around data protection implications
• Adding numerical understanding to HE assumptions
Discussed and recognised again – in addition there is increased understanding of the bursary offer across the departments, and that the drilling down of data into actual expenditure can help think about improving future provision
• Moving away from silo working in both commercial and HE environments
Discussed and recognised again – genuine partnerships have emerged, with a greater understanding of the student experience and commercial needs. This understanding will be further enhanced after a technology and AMOSSHE meeting to develop templates and top tips for HEIs and technology providers to work together
• Making communications to students more transparent
Discussed and recognised again – addressing the service design maps has enabled clearer articulation of the service amongst staff and therefore to students
We will include the benefits realisation exercise in the final project board meeting in July. I encourage everyone to try this at the next group working meeting they have – be it for an #rminhe meeting or something else – it’s a really illuminating exercise that makes participants genuinely reflect on the ‘wifm’ factor – and in our case has been very positive.