The University Think Tank Million+ as Warned of the High Risk of Substantial Cuts to The Student Opportunity Allocation

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BQu Student Attendance Management can Counter Cuts in Funding

It is understood that the Treasury and the Cabinet Office are pressing for the reductions as part of cost savings being imposed on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The reduction could be up to a staggering 60%, nearly £200m, and is due to be announced in the Annual Letter from the Secretary of State, Vince Cable and the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This letter sets out the grant that the council will receive directly from the Government for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive for million+ said:
“This cut would fly in the face of the face of the Government’s social mobility agenda and would come hard on the heels of the Treasury removing the cap on student numbers in 2015. The Student Opportunity Allocation is similar to the pupil premium and is worth over £330m a year.

To lose this funding would be a real disaster, especially since the withdrawal of £100m from the National Scholarship Programme a year early. It appears that the universities who are doing most of the heavy lifting in social mobility are the ones paying the price for the expansion of student numbers.”

When students drop out, universities face the loss of tens of thousands of pounds of tuition fees, teaching grants for higher-cost subjects, and fees for accommodation and other services. This quickly adds up to £millions of pounds lost out of a universities budget.

Over 100 UK universities have student populations ranging from 10,000 to 40,000. The current average dropout rate of 7.4% means the average cost just of lost tuition fees is between £6.7m and £26.6m per university. The other losses are on top of this.

Successful institutions are taking a more proactive approach and using technology to flag up early warning signs of disengagement, so that staff can actively intervene early and make a big difference to reducing dropout rates.

A good Student Attendance Management Systems (SAMS) can quickly add value to any institution. Attendance and engagement data is gathered, collated and processed in real time, saving hundreds of hours of staff efforts. Information on unauthorised absences and late attendance (both highly significant indicators of potential dropout candidates) is highlighted to responsible staff, who an then view the context of the student’s overall attendance history and then contact them by text message, email, telephone or letter through the SAMS there and then.

Without a good system, the same process takes several weeks, by which time the problem is likely to have become entrenched and therefore insoluble.

Additionally, an effective Student Attendance Management System, which operates in real time, ensures that issues are identified proactively and quickly

An effective Student Attendance Management System can deliver 3 key benefits for educational institutions:
1.    Tier 4 Licence compliance
2.    Lower administrative costs
3.    Increased revenues through improved student retention

Most manual systems involve the taking of registers, transferring data into spreadsheets before collating, further data transfer and then data analysis, before being able to identify potential issues. This all takes up an enormous amount of staff time, in academic and administrative departments, so the operational costs are frightening and present a major opportunity for efficiency improvement.

The time this process takes often means that it is too late to take any meaningful action by the time any issues have been highlighted.

Repeatedly keying in attendance data onto spreadsheets invariably brings in unintentional errors, so as well as being late and costly, the resulting information is often unreliable. This is massively demotivating for the staff involved as they know that the system they are doing their best with is not fit for purpose and costs far too much.

A good Attendance Management Policy supported by a good Student Attendance Management System can deliver the following benefits to Students and their institution:

  •     Improved Student Attendance and engagement
  •     Improved communications with students and staff
  •     Reductions in operational costs
  •     Improved staff morale
  •     Improved student attainment
  •     Health & Safety, Duty of Care
  •     Improved student retention
  •     Improved revenues
  •     Improved institutional reputation
  •     Increased demand from new students
  •     Tier 4 Compliance

BQuSAMS (Student Attendance Management System) ensures that users can easily implement their Student Attendance Policy, helping to improve attendance and engagement, improving the student experience and helping to achieve Tier 4 compliance in an efficient and cost effective manner.

BQuSAMS are happy to discuss individual organisational needs and to match a system in both functionality and cost to our customer’s needs.

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Jacques de Cock
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