Bournemouth University International College gives students the key to the town centre

Susie from Bournemouth Town Centre BID
Susie from Bournemouth Town Centre BID

Bournemouth University International College is using the Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card to give students access to a range of retail, leisure, hospitality and services, as part of ongoing efforts to help students engage with their local area to enhance their student experience.

The Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card is one of the 100 plus Town and City Gift Cards schemes around the UK and Ireland, local gift cards from payments provider Miconex that can be spent with multiple businesses in a particular area.
Rachel Woodward Carrick is College Director at Bournemouth University International College, which offers pathway courses in association with Bournemouth University and said: “This is the third year that we will use the Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card for our students, and we do so because it meets a wide range of students’ needs. They can use it to buy food or clothes, on a meal or a trip to the cinema. For those students who have been studying remotely, their gift card will be waiting for them when they arrive. It’s like giving them an invitation to go out and explore Bournemouth, with ideas of where to go.”

Rachel says the Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card is a gateway to the community for their students, as well as being a way for the College to support local and contribute to the vibrancy of the town:

“During the academic year, students might receive a gift card as a prize for grades or for their group work, and go out together as a group for a meal. We need our students to practice their English, and be in social situations, and the gift card encourages that. Our students come to us for up to one year, and they are more likely to stay on to study at Bournemouth University for their degree if they experience Bournemouth as a local. The gift card is a gateway to the community. As students feel more comfortable and confident, they are also more likely to get involved in other activities, such as volunteer work which greatly adds to their student experience.

“Instead of a single retailer gift card, we wanted to give our students something with value that also benefits the local economy. The gift card is well received by students, they like the social element of it. As a local organisation, and a local employer, it is important for us to contribute to the vibrancy of Bournemouth, which in turn makes it an attractive choice for international students. We have to market Bournemouth as a destination.

Susie O’Neill, Business Liaison Officer at Bournemouth Town Centre BID said: “The beauty of the Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card is the breadth of opportunities it offers for students. It helps them to connect with Bournemouth and come to love the town as much as we do. For colleges and universities, buying the gift card for their students and staff is a tangible way for them to support other businesses and the town.”

Student experience will become increasingly important for higher education facilities following the pandemic. The 2021 National Student Survey of over 300,000 students around the UK found that the pandemic caused a decline in students’ overall satisfaction with their course, from 83.7% in 2019 to 75.4% in 2021. A separate ONS report found that the lack of face to face learning had a major or moderate impact on the quality of their course for 61% of students. However for distance learners, already studying remotely, overall satisfaction remained stable, at 83.5% in both 2019 and 2021.

The ONS also found that life satisfaction scores for students were at 5.9 out of a possible 10 in May 2021, significantly lower than the British adult population average at 7.1/10, suggesting that initiatives that encourage students to engage in their local community could be of benefit. A first degree remains the most popular type of higher education, with 611,390 students undertaking these courses in 2019/20, up 5% year on year. There were 2,532,385 students in 2019/20, just over 28% were international students.

Rachel Woodward Carrick from Bournemouth University International College said a Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card can be a useful gift for young adults heading off to college and university: “For parents with children going off to university, there is a sense of security in packing them off with a local gift card that has so much choice on where it can be spent, as well as the feel-good factor of supporting local.”

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex said: “It is fantastic to see an education provider like Bournemouth University International College making use of their local gift card, supporting students and supporting the town at the same time. Redemption data shows that students made full use of their Bournemouth Town Centre Gift Card, in restaurants, at the cinema or during shopping trips- they used the gift card to enjoy their time in Bournemouth, enhancing their student experience.

“There are also opportunities for higher education providers to use their local gift card to disburse funds to students, as hardship payments for students, or even for contingency planning, such as students being unable to access on-site facilities for a time. As Town and City Gift Cards work through the Mastercard network, they’re secure and offer outstanding choice for students, allowing them to access everything from accommodation and food, to clothes and other essentials.”


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