Identifying the neediest 2

February 7, 2008

We read with deep concern, although sadly not surprise, your coverage on the Offa report highlighting the significant percentage of students who fail to claim bursary monies for which they are eligible - and from which they could undoubtedly benefit.

This is nothing short of a national disgrace, not least because credible channels and tested mechanisms exist by which this problem can be largely alleviated. We should know: we have supported large numbers of disadvantaged further-education students to progress to and succeed in higher education and employment through the provision of easily accessible and administratively low-cost bursaries. It's a question of understanding your market and effectively targeting potential customers.

The key to success is identification of student need in the right place (in our case in partner further education colleges), in the right way (through tutors who know individual student circumstances, culture and background) and at the right time (well before entering university).

In the past decade we have grown into the sector's own independent national charity, but demand far outstrips supply. Although last year we awarded more than 100 bursaries, we could have given out ten times that number if we had had a fraction of the money that lies unclaimed in university coffers.

When this issue surfaced last year, we wrote to every vice-chancellor and finance director in the country offering to help. For those who responded, we were able to match needy students to available funds. We'd be pleased to help out again this year. Please call us on 01908 363453 or e-mail

Baroness Kennedy QC, president; Ann Limb, founder and chair; Helena Kennedy Foundation.

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