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Students FIRST

AMOSSHE, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of East London were awarded £55,000 from JISC to look at the impact of a technology-based intervention in providing student bursaries. The resulting Students FIRST project explored whether the use of SMART cards can assist student retention and transitions, and drew on the materials developed in the AMOSSHE Value & Impact project.

Also, take a look at the Students FIRST blog.


Students FIRST aimed to:

  • Use service mapping at more than one site to understand the intervention’s impact and regional versus sector wide relevance.
  • Consider whether technology can support widening participation and student retention.
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness of incorporating information technology in support services.
  • Explore whether student completion of more likely if targeted interventions are employed.
  • Cost the savings and retention value of electronic bursary support.

Project outputs included:

  • Model maps for holistic student support, aligning financial advice with learner needs.
  • Tools for incorporating technology into traditionally paper-based advice roles.
  • Lessons learned and case studies for change management and support services IT needs.


Timeline and project plan

Time  Action 
April 2011 to September 2011 Mapping and initial templates
Plan evaluations
Develop IT systems
August 2011 and ongoing Develop IT systems
September 2011 to December 2011 Monitor student take-up
October 2011 to May 2012 User (student feedback)
April 2012 to June 2012 Analysis
April 2012 to August 2012 Final report and presentations


Terms of reference

The project board will work together to:

  • Contribute to the assessment through the use of comparative data the impact of the Aspire software for bursary delivery.
  • Agree criteria for modelling the impact of the Aspire scheme.
  • Agree the most appropriate models for researching the impact of a technology-based intervention in financial support.
  • Contribute to the assessment of the impact of added financial and money management advice to students in receipt of the Aspire Bursary.
  • Discuss the business practices most appropriate for the Students FIRST partnerships, and future higher education / business relationships more widely.
  • Provide a forum for all groups to work together in the interests of successful Students FIRST project delivery.

Ways of working

The Project Board will meet formally on four occasions during Students FIRST, at six monthly intervals.  Where possible these meetings will be held in person at the AMOSSHE office in central London.

The Project Board will maintain contact with each other throughout the project as appropriate. The project manager will arrange monthly calls with each partner organisation individually to discuss progress. Should any major issues of concern arise, additional Project Board meetings may be called to address these concerns.


Project board membership

  • Professor Sir Deian Hopkin, Independent Chair
  • Raegan Hiles, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation (project manager)
  • Nicole Redman, Head of SMART team, University of East London.
  • Julie Walkling, Director of Student Services, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Andy Free, John Smiths Booksellers
  • Brad Bence, Director of IT, John Smiths Booksellers
  • Roger Marshall, Managing Director, Modus Creative Limited
  • Steve Sidaway, Business Development Director, BlackBoard Connect
  • Tony Hudson, Research Manager / Karina Berzins, Research Fellow, Continuum (Research Team)
  • Brian Hipkin, Dean of Students, Regent's College (External advisor)
  • Tima Moledina, Administrative officer, AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation (board secretary)

Meeting dates and minutes

17 May 2011:

9 November 2011:

18 April 2012:

24 July 2012:


Project outputs



Guidance for Student Services and commercial providers wishing to work together.

4 lots of 5 things (top tips):


Service design maps



Students FIRST blog

Interim and final reports


AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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