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The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is a means for universities to have a more localised way of supporting their students.

One of the UK’s leading universities, the University of Dundee is based in the East Coast of Scotland. Sharon Sweeney, Student Funding Officer, and Lorainne Gray, Student Funding Administrator, at the University of Dundee and explained how they used the Scotland Loves Local Dundee Gift Card. 

What support does the University of Dundee offer its students? 

“We process applications for funds through the higher education discretionary fund of around £3 million pounds, distributed across many transactions to students throughout the year. Few students come to see us when they’re happy; we deal with a lot of emergencies including highly distressed people. We’ve done it all, from putting carpets and beds in houses to putting nappies on babies’ bottoms and school uniforms on children’s backs. It’s about how responsive we can be as a university, providing a high level of engagement and empowerment to students, helping them to stay in education and supporting their wellbeing. 

“When we are processing applications, we try not to work in an ameliorative way. We could apply a sticking plaster, such as helping a student to pay a utility bill, but it’s also about looking at the student’s whole situation and if there are other ways we can support them. Even though each application is dealt with the same from a process perspective, we look at the needs of each

student on an individual basis. We had been using supermarket cards as part of our support for students for many years and we were at the point of renewing it when a colleague mentioned the Scotland Loves Local Dundee Gift Card.” 

Why did you choose Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards? 

“For 2023 we’ll be using the Scotland Loves Local Dundee Gift Card as part of our emergency fund. We chose to use the gift card firstly because of the functionality of the card and the fact that it can be easily used by students and by us. Because of covid, the University of Dundee is now cashless. Prior to covid, we were able to give students short term emergency payments of up to £200, so we had to think about how to distribute those funds. Using the Dundee Gift Card means we can give students the ability to top up their electricity and gas meters easily. 

“The second reason for choosing the Dundee Gift Card was choice. We have had some feedback over the years with students asking why we were using Tesco vouchers when most students go to Lidl, but we were never able to offer Lidl vouchers because they don’t sell them. But with the Dundee Gift Card, students can go to Lidl, or many other businesses including big brands and independent businesses. Thirdly, we also liked the fact that the gift card is supporting the local economy in Dundee, and from a social justice perspective, we thought that was important. 

“The Dundee Gift Card supports our aims to offer more than ameliorative response to students. If we’re able to give a student a Dundee Gift Card so they can put money on their utility meter or get a food shop to feed their kids for a fortnight; that is transformational. The dignity aspect was important too. We wouldn’t want to be giving students a branded card that advertises that it’s a financial aid card, or do anything that makes the student feel uncomfortable about using the help they’ve been given.” 

What was your experience of using Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards? 

“We ordered £10,000 of Dundee Gift Cards. Initially, we had to get Miconex set up with our procurement at the University, and once that was done, it was plain sailing. The gift cards arrived right to our office and were all locked until I contacted Miconex to say I’d received the cards. Miconex then activated the cards and it was all a very easy process. We’ll use the cards on an ongoing basis, as and when they are needed.” 

What feedback have you received? 

“It’s still early days, as we are only just beginning to give the cards out for students, but we’ll be using the cards across a full year. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is a means for universities to have a more localised way of supporting their students. My advice for other universities would be to give it a go.” 

Find out more and place a Scotland Loves Local business order here.


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