UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Enrolment Services Graduate Student Financial Wellness : A Strategic Plan Ng, Eddison; Duncan, John; Sieklucki, Michelle; Xue, Yvonne; Lin, Zoe


Introduction- The Enrolment Services Professionals (ESP) on the Financial Wellness Team’s (FWT) mission is to “[s]upport students’ overall success and wellness by providing students with the information, tools, and resources they need to develop financial wellness prior to arriving at UBC, throughout their degree, and after graduation.” The purpose of this project is to identify what graduate students need and want to learn regarding financial wellness, and the most effective forms for delivery based on student needs. However, the FWT does not currently have a grad student engagement strategy. Current Situation- Through the use of in-person interviews, secondary research, as well as SWOT and PEST analyses, it is noted that there are four key barriers hindering the potential success of financial literacy programming for grad students. The barriers are a lack of awareness of the program, minimal motivation for uptake, non-curated content and confidentiality concerns. To address these issues and help the FWT achieve its mission, a student-centered focus must be taken, shifting resources online in interactive e-module form coupled with interesting gamification and incentivizing all bolstered with a comprehensive awareness marketing campaign. The strategy ticks off all the boxes and will allow ESPs to help grad and undergrad students alike. The Student-Centered Strategy- “Financial Wellness for Grad Students” Campaign The first part of the recommendation is to create a marketing campaign with branding in mind specifically for graduate students. We understand that the Financial Wellness Team promotion to grad students has not been priority for FWT for reasons such as lack of attendance and interests. Although marketing campaign can bring awareness to initiatives, without branding the awareness will be ephemeral. Therefore, branding should be utilized extensively so graduate students will begin to see the FWT as the sole provider of solutions to their financial wellness problems or needs. The long-term goal of the marketing campaign should be to build the brand image of FWT, emotionally connect prospects with offerings, and create user loyalty. Implementing E-module Learning The second recommendation is to transfer workshop content over to an e-module based, online system. Such a system will provide grad students a more convenient way of learning about financial literacy while also remedying the issue of confidentiality. The online system will support varying forms of digital mediums in order to educate grad students. The online system will not replace person-to-person interactions as options for financial advising should be provided along with the online system. Grad students should be automatically enrolled within the program, but do have the freedom to leave the program consequence free. It is recommended to utilize the learning management system “Canvas” for implementation. Canvas contains all the necessary tools needed to run the system effectively and is the platform all UBC students will use starting September 2018. Gamification and Incentivizing The third recommendation is to motivate students to take e-modules by gamifying the learning process and distributing rewards for milestones. Gamifying the e-modules will be relatively simple to do since there is an application that links to Canvas for it called Delphinium. In terms of implementation there will be a small one-time fee to hire a developer to manage the integration. As for providing rewards, it is recommended to reach out to UBC affiliated businesses to get sponsorship. This approach will benefit both UBC businesses and students since both have a lot to gain from the sponsorship. Risks and Timeline- As with any changes, the proposed strategy is not without risks. The largest concern for the student-centered focus is the political hurdle imposed by UBC and the risks associated with Delphinium as the platform for gamification. Additionally, it should be noted that the primary interview data is from 24-25 individuals interviewed. These individual’s responses may not be representative of the nearly 10,000 grad students at UBC. The proposed timeline is estimated generously to accommodate ESPs various duties, work and other teams. Although presented at beginning in Q2 2018, the timeline is malleable and can be adapted to when the team and program are ready to move forward with the strategy. Conclusion- Awareness, motivation, time, content and confidentiality are all hindering the Financial Wellness Teams success in realizing their mission for grad students at UBC. The student-centric focus, comprised of the best of online learning, incentivizing and a robust marketing campaign will allow the team to increase awareness and motivation and create catered content that individuals want to know. The student-centered focus will allow the Financial Wellness Program to grow and become a more robust resource, bolstering the credibility and reach of the program, ultimately striving towards realizing the mission. 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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