Vulnerable Students Stakeholders Group

The Vulnerable Students Stakeholders Group (VSSG) advises and supports the operational delivery of specialist support to vulnerable students.

The purpose of the group is to:

  • To highlight issues and analyse data regarding the application processing of Grants for Dependants (GFD) and support to other vulnerable groups requiring specialist support at key points in the annual application cycle in order to:
    • bring external expertise and experience to bear in identifying and resolving issues
    • raise concerns and challenge processes
    • support SLC through joining-up communications to students and any other appropriate actions to help achieve the smooth delivery of support to these individuals
  • To provide specialist input into Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)
  • To provide input into any proposed changes and improvements to the services to vulnerable students so the service can gain the expert advice and input of stakeholders regarding the design of changes and improvements.

Membership

National Union of Students - Chair

David Malcolm

NUS

NAMSS

Kevin Grindley

NAMSS

National Association of Student Money Advisers

Lynne Condell

NASMA

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation

Mandi Barron/
Sam Dale/John Bloomfield

AMOSSHE

The Foyer Federation

Andrea Taylor

Brightside

Mark Taylor

Welsh Government

Meinir Collyer

WG

Stand Alone

Becca Bland

The Care Leavers' Association

Carrie Wilson

National Network for the Education of Care Leavers

Arron Pile

NNECL

Department for Education

various

DfE

Student Loans Company

various

SLC

Meeting dates

The Vulnerable Students Stakeholders Group meets three to four times a year, depending on key consultation and information points within the service cycle.

Key outputs from the previous meetings

23 May 2017

The group received an update in regards to SFE & SFW Child Care Grant (CCG), Adult Dependants’ Grant (ADG) and Parents Learning Allowance (PLA) application processing.

Members also received an update from the Independent Team and an update from the Estrangement assessors. This included an update on estrangement statistics and how the team is developing. The group received an update on the recent changes to the team.

The group received an update customer insight in regards to the estrangement survey that had concluded in recent months. The group found this beneficial to their organisations and also very informative.

21 February 2017

The group received an update in regards to SFE & SFW Child Care Grant (CCG), Adult Dependants’ Grant (ADG) and Parents Learning Allowance (PLA) application processing. Members also received an update from the Independent Team and an update from the Estrangement assessors. This included an update on estrangement statistics and how the team is developing. The group received an update from the Welsh Government in regards to the Diamond review, and how this will impact students in future.


15 November 2016

The group received an update in regards to SFE & SFW Child Care Grant (CCG), Adult Dependants’ Grant (ADG) and Parents Learning Allowance (PLA) application processing. Members also received an update from the Independent Team and an update from the Estrangement assessors in regards to the two new roles that had been created. Members were provided with statistics in regards to progress of applications and referrals. The group received an update on the Grants for Dependents Customer Satisfaction survey. The group discussed the findings and looked at satisfaction rates for customers who use products such as Child Care Grant (CCG), Adult Dependants’ Grant (ADG) and Parents Learning Allowance (PLA). Members also received an update in regards to the new financial hardship form customer evaluation findings. The group discussed the findings and looked at how best to work together to help improve the customer journey.

17 May 2016

The group discussed MI information for AY 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 grants for dependents (GFD) and the independent student applications for SFE and SFW. Members noted the continued good performance for both services.

The group received an update on the current enhancements for trans students and equality monitoring for LGB students.

Members also received an overview of the recent enhancements to the estranged students application process for SFE and SFW, which were hugely welcomed along with the work to improve the customer journey for the most vulnerable students, i.e. estranged students and care leavers.

02 February 2016

The group met on in SLC Llandudno Junction Office. As well as receiving the usual updates on Grants for Dependants (CCG, ADG, PLA) applications for SFE and SFW services and statistics for independent SFE and SFW students, the group discussed specific issues ‘on-the-ground’ for SFW service and received a separate update from Welsh Government.

It was discussed that if HEP representatives have any specific questions regarding estranged students applying for SFW funding - they should email them to SFE Independent students team.

VSSG members were also advised of the survey results that Stand Alone done with Cambridge University on reconciliation and sources of support for estranged students.

12 May 2015

The group received an updates on Grants for Dependants for SFE and SFW. The group also received an overview of the workflow tool OpX which is currently being tested by the Grants for dependants Teams. The tool has great benefits in saving time, eliminating numerous spreadsheets and allowing staff to refer the accounts back to themselves to check on the progress of difficult accounts.

Members received an overview of the migrant workers applications and were advised on different types of evidence acceptable for those students.

Stand Alone (a charity organisation dealing with estranged people) updated the group on the guidance materials for estranged students applying for student finance, which has received a very positive feedback. Stand Alone are also doing some further research and analysis that they would be able to share with the group at the next meeting.

17 February 2015

The group received an updates on Grants for Dependants for SFE and SFW. The group discussed the pre-assessment stage of student finance application as vulnerable students can have difficulties providing identity information. EU students also have issues at the pre-assessment stage and are very often given inconsistent advice over the phones.

Campaign and Comms team talked the members through the AY 15/16 guidance materials students and practitioners on Grants for Dependants.

Stand Alone (a charity organisation dealing with estranged people) updated the group on development of guidance materials for estranged students applying for student finance. This guidance will be published on Stand Alone's dedicated microsite within the next couple of weeks.

25 November 2014

The group received an operational update on SFE and SFW processing of applications for Grants for Dependants(GFD) and applications for independent status for Academic Years 13/14 and 14/15. Members were advised of the current and future improvements in the GFD processing and noted a significant increase in CCG applications.

The main focus of the meeting was on care leavers. Buttle UK advised that the main problems identified by HEIs and care leavers when applying for student finance are: providing evidence of independent status and of income levels; difficulty in finding relevant information about student finance; loss of documentation by SLC and issues with finances for those students who have a break in their study.

The group also received an overview of fraudulent cases, specifically those when parents commit fraud and how these effect students’ applications.

Members were provided with an update from Stand Alone on development of the microsite with information and guidance for estranged students on how to apply for student finance.