National Student Money Week 2015
National Student Money Week (NSWM) was back at the end of February and once again the Student Funding Office was on hand to engage with students on campus. Money matters were again the order of the day through a range of hugely successful events designed to get UCL students thinking more about their finances and the ways in which their cash is spent. An even greater triumph than in previous years, the week (which ran from 9 – 13 February) was saw hundreds of students across the Gower Street and Institute of Education campuses joining in the festivities. Universities from Southampton to Dundee were also hosting events in concert with the National Association of Student Money Advisers, and this year a raft of activities, workshops and Q&As were held on line by the likes of Student Finance, Student Services and The Student Room.
For UCL’s part, the Student Funding Welfare Advisor planned a varied schedule, primarily built around a Student Funding stall that travelled around from the South Cloisters, to the South Quad and the main reception at the IoE. Attended by members of the Student Funding team, the stall dispensed a raft of materials on money-saving tips and advice. Central to this was the return of last year’s very popular ‘Shopping Basket Challenge’ in which students were invited to guess the value of two specially prepared shopping baskets. Each basket was filled with the exact same items, but one was comprised of branded items, and the other were the equivalent own-brand value products. Hundreds of students decided to try their luck in the hope of winning the contents of the basket – some sneaky blighters even tried to look up the values of the items on the supermarket’s app!
From the guesses that came in, it was clear that the difference in prices was far more than most students expect with the value basket coming in at a measly £13.67 compared to the branded basket being over three times the price at £48.89. The two winners managed to get very close, with one coming within 71p off the exact value and the other with a guess that was just 3p away! Given the massive savings available with the value products, students were also challenged to see if they could tell the difference between McVities Jaffa Cakes and supermarket own-brand Jaffa Cakes. Shockingly, 95% of participants got them the wrong way around, suggesting that the value treats may be a viable alternative to the brand. A swap shop was also run in conjunction with the stall on the Thursday where students could bring along their unwanted items and trade in for something a little more exciting – from crockery to clothing.
Elsewhere, the Student Funding Welfare Advisor hosted several drop-in sessions to which students could stop by and discuss a any financial issues of concern. This is a service that the Student Funding Office does offer throughout the year if students are ever in need of financial advice during their studies at UCL. It wasn’t just Student Funding putting on events, however. The Study Abroad Team offered a money workshop designed to advise students who are planning a year abroad, while the North London Waste Authority visited campus to make suggestions on how to cut down waste and save up to £200 per year by being smarter with food. UCLU Rights and Advice were also on hand, along with Students’ Union to talk about the costs and benefits of renting in Greater London and the array of cheap and free gems hidden around London for students.