Outstanding student financial support package

November 26, 2007

Portsmouth University. Portsmouth University's nomination represents "an excellent example of well-targeted financial support aimed at a specific group of chronically under-represented students - in this case, care-leavers and the previously homeless", according to Sir Martin Harris, award judge and director of the Office for Fair Access, which sponsors this category.

The area around the university has a high proportion of children in care. To help them, Portsmouth introduced targeted support for care-leavers and previously homeless students. Its Student Finance Centre has worked with social workers, staff and clients of the local Foyer for Homeless Young People to identify barriers to entering higher education.

A £1,000-a-year bursary plus tailored services has led to many care- leavers and previously homeless students progressing well through degrees. The university has established a working group, comprising student finance, marketing and student housing, to develop integrated support for care-leavers and previously homeless students across all services.

Sir Martin said: "I was particularly impressed with Portsmouth's integrated approach, both in engaging professionals in the field of care and homelessness and in co-ordinating services across the university. They are already seeing early signs of success in their excellent retention rates and in feedback from the students."

The judges highly commended Wolverhampton University's Regional Cashback Bursary, a one-off £1,000 payment offered regardless of income to first- year students on degree-level courses.

"I particularly like the extent to which the regional schools and colleges have engaged with the scheme, along with other partners in Aimhigher and Connexions, to create maximum awareness among the target population," Sir Martin said.

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