Supporting students through financial hardship: A continuous improvement perspective

Ms Vanesa Duran1, Ms Elen Shute1, Mrs Helen Laity

1Flinders University Student Association, Bedford Park, Australia

Student Assist assesses applications for interest-free loans of $500 from students who require assistance to meet study-related expenses. The ultimate purpose of this University scheme is to ensure students remain fully engaged with their studies. To review our internal practices and identify potential red flags when assessing students’ ability to repay this loan, we have reviewed student demographic and financial data for the 167 loans made in 2015–2017. To be approved for a loan, students must demonstrate the ability to make fortnightly repayments of $25. Although repayments are small, data showed that 63% of students defaulted on payment at least once, many of them defaulting more than once (mean 2.8; range 1-10). Of those who defaulted, >60% defaulted early (within the first 60 days). Defaults automatically cause the University to place a sanction on a student’s account, meaning they cannot access library resources, assessment results or have the ability to enrol until the outstanding payments are made. This is stressful and hinders academic progress. Having identified high rates of defaults, we aim to now compare the characteristics of students who did default with the 37% who successfully made all repayments. The aim is to target loans towards students most likely to be able to repay, and identify alternative forms of financial assistance for those likely to be placed in additional financial hardship by being provided with an inappropriate product.


Biography:

Vanesa is the Team Leader of Student Assist, the Advocacy and Welfare arm of Flinders University Student Association.  Vanesa has over 10 years experience working in the Higher Education sector and combines a passion for student engagement as well as student success and wellbeing.

ANZSSA

The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.

ISANA

ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

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