NMITE seeks to tempt dissatisfied students by paying housing costs

Recently launched provider spends big in attempt to drive ‘exponential growth’ in student numbers

二月 5, 2023
Source: NMITE
Students learning in the NMITE studios

One of the UK’s newest higher education providers is hoping to convince unhappy students to join it from other institutions by offering to pay their accommodation costs.

Hereford’s New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMITE) has launched “switcher bursaries” to target students dissatisfied with their chosen course who wish to move part way through.

Up to £5,000 is available to pay off any outstanding accommodation costs and fees connected to an old provider if a student wishes to terminate a year-long tenancy agreement early with their private landlord or hall or residence.

The institution is also offering up to £7,500 towards accommodation costs for their first year of study at NMITE.

“Higher education is a huge decision for people to have to make, and a huge financial commitment and sometimes people don’t always find themselves in a situation that works for them,” said NMITE’s development director, Harriet Dearden.

“It is really important that anybody who has an offer to study here feels they can accept that regardless of their financial circumstances. If that means we can help out by paying out the contract on that existing accommodation to stop it being a barrier, we can do that.”

When it opened its doors in 2021 after a pandemic-induced delay, NMITE styled itself as the first university created from scratch since the University of Buckingham was born in the 1970s. It has not yet been given degree-awarding powers or the right to use the university title but its programmes are validated by The Open University.

It initially took on 30 students studying engineering degrees, which has now grown to 100, and Ms Dearden said the institution was targeting “exponential growth” and aiming for a 700-strong cohort in the next five years. The eventual aim is to admit 5,000 students.

NMITE’s first set of students had their accommodation and fees paid for them for the first year, and it has continued to spend heavily in an attempt to compete with rivals to attract students.

As well as the switcher bursaries, the institution has offered scholarships for women wanting to get into engineering and those who live in the local area. To help with the cost of living, it has offered a monthly free pub lunch, free breakfasts, free railcards and £1-a-day parking.

Ms Dearden said this has contributed to greater diversity among its undergraduate population, with the latest cohort being 32 per cent female, compared with about 14 per cent in the engineering sector as a whole. She said the funding was particularly attractive to those wishing to move from other careers into engineering, because they are not allowed to take out a second student loan. A quarter of the cohort have prior work experience in past careers, Ms Dearden said.

The institution has continued to target sponsorships and philanthropical donors to pay for the support it offers. Mr Dearden said many businesses and individuals were happy to lend their support, particularly because many are “desperate” for engineers themselves.




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