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

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation

Mandi Barron

AMOSSHE

StandAlone

Becca Bland

 

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation

John Bloomfield 

AMOSSHE

Family and Childcare Trust

Ellen Broome  

Care Leaver Progression Partnership


Vanessa Chapman

CLPP

National Association of Student Money Advisors


Lynne Condell

NASMA

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation


Sam Dale

AMOSSHE

National Association for Managers of Student Services

Kevin Grindley

NAMSS

Welsh Government

Rhian Haggett

Welsh Government

Ruth Hayton

StandAlone

Susan Mueller

National Network for the Education of Care Leavers

Arron Pile

NNECL

The Foyer Federation

Andrea Taylor

Brightside

Mark Taylor

The Care Leavers' Association

Carrie Wilson

Student Loans Company

 Stephen Clarkson

SLC

Student Loans Company

Anne-Marie Davitt

SLC

Student Loans Company

Deborah Elder

SLC

Student Loans Company

 Mark Harrison

SLC

Student Loans Company

Gethin Jones

SLC

Student Loans Company

Adrian Knight

SLC

Student Loans Company

Jade Laws

SLC

Student Loans Company

David Middeton

SLC

Student Loans Company

Charmaine Valente

SLC

Student Loans Company

Dawn Anderson

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

4 September 2018

The group was advised that a review of all stakeholder groups would take place ahead of next year and group input would be sought. The format of VSSG meetings may change to allow more time for discussion of agenda points, spending less time on presentations that had been shared with the group in advance.

It was agreed that a senior representative was needed for the group, and this person should have decision-making powers. The role of the new HR Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager was introduced, but this role leans more towards SLC staff. Concerns around this would be addressed at a future meeting.

Significant progress had been made on Migrant Worker (MW) processing. Application volumes had risen, but the queue was being managed more efficiently. Vulnerable students’ applications were being processed much faster, and the MW focus group had overhauled journey packs to make them more relevant.

A meeting to discuss the Counter Fraud Services sampling exercise of Vulnerable Students would be held on 12th September 2018. The next meeting of the full VSSG group is scheduled for 13th November 2018. 

22 May 2018

The Grants for Dependants (GFD) team reported processing challenges, partly attributed to the impact of online NHS applications, partly due to forecast figures. Complex means-tested assessments explained low GFD award rates, and clearer Information and Guidance around this grant was needed. All factsheets were due to be reviewed and updated.

Child Care Grant applications were prioritised and had been fully processed. A new pilot process was producing positive results. Resources were being placed to best meet SLAs, and a new GFD helpline had been launched.

The Independent team commented on the improved clarity on eligibility for students since the launch of the online application system. Little data on processing stats was available for 18/19 at this stage in the calendar year. Early indications showed that more applications had been received so far but fewer had been processed, as a result of reduced headcount. Processing remained nonetheless on track.

Increases in requests for additional evidence from Estranged students should have levelled out by 19/20. Withdrawal figures among Estranged students had dropped significantly since last year.

There had been an overall increase in applications. Among Independent students, returning numbers were higher than those for new students.

YouTube videos from SFW had proven more popular than expected, and the wealth of information available to students had resulted in more core and GFD applications. It was anticipated that the peak application period of October would see fewer applications because of this.

A discussion took place around a Counter Fraud Services (CFS) exercise which had included a sample of vulnerable students selected at random. Questions were asked over CFS processes, the reasons for examining applications and the potential consequences for students. CFS explained that the aim was to eliminate fraud and identify any risks within the application process.