We’re reducing processing times for student bursary applications from an average of 23 to 3 days.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults. It runs a number of schemes under the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) administering the Care to Learn scheme and claims for students in defined vulnerable groups.
But the application process for student support schemes was proving far from smooth. In the case of the Care to Learn scheme, the form was long and the accompanying guidance was a similar length. At the time almost 50% of forms for the Care to Learn scheme were being submitted incompletely or with errors, hugely increasing the time it took for young parents to get much needed funding.
Simplifying the process would ensure that thousands of people could access further education and training to achieve the ESFA’s objective of reducing the number of young people not in education training or employment.
Our funds disbursement service worked with the ESFA to manage a range of its schemes. Through a series of collaborative workshops alongside partners in ESFA and end users we were able to pinpoint the pain points for end users in the current service.
We built and user tested a transformational digital platform and online application process. The digital process we implemented was intuitive, and only requested relevant information to a particular user’s circumstances and removed questions which were not appropriate to them. Users were able to access application forms via a secure portal where they could check progress of their application. Alongside this we added web chat options and online guidance pops up in a side box to assist them with their application. We also provided additional guidance if required through a series of YouTube videos to assist them with their form.
The new online form eliminated incomplete forms and those with errors – saving the ESFA 40% on the cost of service delivery.
Together with the digital technology we offered support for applicants through our customer services solution. We provided advice, guidance and assistance over the telephone, through email or webchat depending on customer preference.
We paid out in excess of £2 billion of funding and processed over three million applications in total, meaning millions of the UK’s most vulnerable young adults were able to access education and skills training.