UBC Undergraduate Research

Financial Literacy : The Future of Financial Wellness at UBC Bhullar, Ram; Gibeau, Emilie; Robertson, Daylan; Zhan, Minjia; Zhang, Wen


Purpose- This report prepared for UBC Enrollment Services will outline key findings that identify international students needs and wants regarding education on financial wellness. It will deliver solutions for the most effective way to convey financial wellness importance to the student body increasing their financial literacy skills and practices. Insight- To gain and understanding of what international students financial standing and wellbeing was one on one mini interviews were conducted to gain insight into international students. Combining these findings with extensive research focused on international students across Canadian universities, many points of interest were confirmed or identified. Both the financial burden and moving to a new environment with little to no support is incredibly stressful and financial planning can be put to the back end. International students are assumed to be financially well off because, they must have the finances and skills to be able to support themselves on international fees. These assumptions along with a disconnect with foreign cultural practices that put higher emphasis on education above all else can make international students less likely to seek help proactively. Enrollment services does have the ability and means to provide knowledge and assistance with the issues international students cope with. It's the channel by which the information is distributed that inhibits the effectiveness of Enrollment Services. Most interactions are responses to problems not a proactive discussion on how to avoid issues. There is a massive opportunity to improve engagement in the proactive nature. Requirements & Alternatives- All solutions considered had the following four traits; must incorporate proactive and preventative financial measures, represent all students, have depth to address individual needs, and provide access in the matter students deem accessible. Criteria for choosing the best option include implementation time, alignment with Enrolment Services, complexity, potential reach, and degree of impact. Alternatives considered were; to provide a mandatory financial literacy program in the first years of a student's studies, peer -to-peer advising services provided by student ambassadors to increase student engagement, or design a mobile app to allow easy access and increase the relevance Enrollment Services which was considered the best option. Recommendation: Mobile App- By working with software developers to establish a unique UBC Financial Success Initiative mobile app, students can access information regardless of time and location. By working with UBC IT students can register through their CWL and be able to use these services. To ensure comprehensiveness and depth to represent the student body while assisting with individual needs. The app will offer bookkeeping function, online real-time chats, live video of workshops, alerts for dates and deadlines, and by incorporating short surveys to better understand students the app could be used to target specific students to beneficial workshops. To increase the awareness of the mobile app existing relationships with professors, student facing groups and currently used outreach methods will be used to launch the application. Building the Mobile App- Determining the desired features and functions of the app and choosing the right developers and partners will be the first steps, these and pre-development process will take until the beginning of 2019. The bulk of 2019 will be used to design, test and create a launching strategy so it can be released and fully functioning in early 2020. The total cost is projected to be around $147,100.00 for the first year and $31,100.00 for the following 2 years. Risks- Quality of the app is substantially important to have the student body adopt it widely, an emphasis on having the right partners and allowing adequate time to design and develop the app will mitigate any app failures on the technological end. Lack of university support may be a issue but there is no immediate concern as to why there may not be support behind a campus wide app. To mitigate the risks of low usage or adoption rates the relationships that Enrollment Services has with faculties and student groups will be brought into use to encourage adoption and convey the importance of the service. Measuring Success- Success will be measurable by the number of downloads, along with the rating and reviews of the application. Number of online chats encaged in and number of viewers watching live workshops will help gauge the user interaction rate. Metrics pulled from the app will allow the process to be oriented into what is working and what is not. A mix of students from a diverse background of faculties and years of education would be considered a huge success and uptake in proactive financial wellness content will show if that issue of only using Enrolment Services only as a problem solver was mitigated. Final Thoughts- The mobile app approach works not only with increasing international student financial wellness but allows to easily influence all other students as well. Overall, Enrollment services has the knowledge and excellent tools to provide ttp the student body, but access to these tools is limiting the outreach of Enrolment Services. Incorporating the technology that is at our disposal and innovating to the trends of the current and future student body we can align the message conveyed by Enrolment Services with how students want to access that information which will increases financial wellbeing of students across the campus. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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