15 February 2021
Empowering your ambassadors with the information they need: finance

Unibuddy is all about authentic peer-to-peer interactions between current and future students. We find that a lot of prospective students want to hear ambassadors’ experiences and personal opinions. Ambassadors should be encouraged to share these first-hand accounts and stories, as this is the most powerful communication tool.

But, for the best experience for the prospective student, ambassadors should also be empowered with relevant information about the university and the admissions process.

This is especially important as, in recent years, the Advertising Standards Authority has cracked down on misinformation or misleading marketing from universities. The Competitions and Markets Authority has issued guidance to Universities on keeping their information full and factual — that information includes what your ambassadors are saying.

There’s no need for ambassadors to be a walking talking prospectus, but giving them some training on processes within your university won’t go amiss, and will help prospective students get the answers they want via Unibuddy.

How much does it cost?

Every student has experience with financing their Higher Education — but these experiences differ so much. In England, home students will have experience with Student Finance England, £9,250 fees, and maintenance grants.

But they may not know that the situation is different for EU students, or different again for the rest of the world. Similarly, a student who is financially supported through university might not recognise the variance in maintenance loans or living costs. The costs of university, and the threshold for paying back, are also constantly changing so 3rd-year students may have very different financial experiences than prospects.

For this reason, it’s important that ambassadors have an overview of the profiles of different types of student that may come to University. Even if they don’t know what and how everyone pays for their Higher Education, they’ll at least know when to say “your experience will be different from mine!”.

Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships

Scholarships will always be a hot topic for students — and ambassadors are likely to be asked about them from time to time.

Nobody is expecting current students to be experts in this, and they don’t need to roll off every scholarship and its eligibility criteria at the drop of a hat. It is helpful, however, for ambassadors to be able to signpost prospective students to the most up-to-date and relevant information.

This may be the email address for the relevant office or a URL to the right webpage. Giving your ambassadors the right signposts for different scholarship related enquiries is really helpful, and ensures that prospects get an answer to their question.

Honesty is the best policy

Just as with every topic on Unibuddy, ambassadors should always be honest and open about the university experience. Ambassadors shouldn’t feel that they have to give an inaccurate perception of the “true cost” of university — but this can be turned into a positive.

University is the first chance many young people will get to experience budgeting and financial management. Some students may choose to get a job, which won’t just ease the financial strain it will also be a great source of experience to boost their CV. And there are plenty of ways to save money: student discounts, second-hand books and their local knowledge of the cheapest place for a coffee!

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