Students entering further education rate complex admin least favourite aspect of the transition from school
New software that helps students get funding for further education places will help them to deal with their least favourite subject: admin.
CAMS software, developed by Scottish firm Inisoft, is now available to further education providers in England and Scotland. It helps FE providers to streamline their funding application and approval processes in the wake of significant cuts to their administration budgets. This is only expected to get tougher as access to the European Social Fund, worth millions to UK colleges, will end when the UK leaves the EU.
At most colleges in the UK, the task of applying for financial support is a complex, paper-based process. This is a poor experience for those who are most reliant on funding, a vulnerable group of students who are already at high risk of withdrawing from college.
An online straw poll of potential FE students for Inisoft found that most rated admin as their least favourite aspect of the transition from school to further education. Also high on the list was ‘learning to cook’ and ‘moving into college with help from their parents’.
Oonagh McBride, Head of Inisoft said: “Further Education colleges often find that they are overwhelmed by the volume of enquiries from potential students and hampered by incomplete information or applications that are likely to fail based on a mismatch between criteria and grades. This eats time for administrators and makes life very difficult for students. By streamlining the process, we can introduce certainty and a rapid conclusion to application processes, giving potential students clarity and enabling administrators to respond promptly to more applications.”
CAMS software, along with sister package ‘INICA’, which assists with course applications, is already being used by 80% of regional Scottish colleges.
The CAMS college application management system has been developed to simplify and manage the entire student funding application. The software saves time and resources for both students and college staff, significantly reducing costs due to a reduction in data entry and automated systems.
CAMS will integrate with existing systems and run the funding process from inviting suitable candidates to apply on-line through to BACS payment. Students can use mobile or desktop devices to apply, upload evidence and monitor the progress of their application.
“Funding enquiries in general – phone, email and student personal contact are at an all-time low and there has been very little requirement for students to visit the college for evidence scanning or submission. The support from Inisoft has also been extremely valuable. The turnaround for rectifying any issues is almost instant which has allowed us to keep our processes running smoothly. This application experience for both staff and students has improved immensely. The feedback from the students and staff as well as external childcare providers has been consistently positive.” said Lynette Friel, Student Funding Manager at West College Scotland.
“There is pressure on Colleges to manage their funding closely to ensure that the available money is directed to the students that need it most.” said Oonagh McBride. “With complicated paper based applications still common, this can be a frustrating and time consuming experience for students. On top of this, it is a process which generates considerable admin for college staff. We’ve had some incredible feedback from our college partners who are using CAMS to reduce their cost to serve students.”
About Inisoft Ltd: Inisoft is a specialist software company providing a number of software solutions focused on meeting the needs of further education colleges, contact centres, economic development bodies and financial services organisations. Inisoft’s online application solution “INICA” and student funding solution “CAMS” is already supplied to 80% of the Scottish regional colleges, delivering real costs and efficiency saving while improving the student experience.