Good practice when offering in-kind support
If you are considering introducing in-kind support, you should bear in mind the impact it will have on students, particularly on take-up of any bursary you offer, and the increased administrative burden it may mean for your institution.
We would also strongly encourage you to take into account the following good practice:
- Consider offering a cash alternative to your in-kind award. For example, if you offer free or discounted laptops, students who already own a laptop may wish to take up an alternative cash offer. This offer does not necessarily have to reflect the retail price of the in-kind award.
- Test the feasibility of any in-kind support with your student union or student focus groups before you introduce it.
- Explain your policy on in-kind support in your access agreement and any promotional materials you produce.
- Evaluate any in-kind support you offer (in the same way that you evaluate your bursaries and outreach work) to make sure it is effective and to inform the future development of your access agreement.
In-kind support and the minimum bursary
Note that the minimum bursary requirement no longer exists for students entering under the current system of fees and student finance.
You may count in-kind support towards your minimum bursary obligations. But if you are offering an item or facility that students might not necessarily use, given the choice, we will exercise our judgement as to whether the support meets the relevant criteria.
However, you must offer the minimum bursary in cash as an alternative to students on full state support, with the following conditions:
- If you give students a pre-paid card:
- you must refund any unspent credit up to the value of the minimum bursary in cash at the end of the academic year to students on full state support
- you must also make it clear to students if you will refund unspent credit above the minimum bursary in cash, or carry this forward to the following year.
- You may only count in-kind support in the year in which you provide this support. For example, if you give students a laptop in their first year, you must count the cost of this support in that academic year – you cannot spread the cost over the duration of their course. In subsequent years of study, you must give students the minimum bursary, or in-kind support covering this value.
- If the cost of in-kind support is less than predicted, and as a result does not cover the minimum bursary for those students on full state support, you must make up the difference in goods or cash if requested.
How to report on in-kind support in your monitoring return
Your reporting on in-kind awards should reflect the actual cost to your institution, as opposed to the retail value. Similarly, if in-kind support costs less to provide than predicted, or where you have an arrangement to pay a third party provider on behalf of the student, you should report on actual expenditure.
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