Student funding and personalized informationon the Internet (Studmoney)

Published on: 12/06/2007
Document

LÃ¥nekassen was established in 1947 to provide funding to student in higher education. The self-service facility on the Internet was introduced in 2000. Our customers can now be fully serviced through fully automated, user-friendly online services, "Your pages". Customers may apply for funding, track their application status and remain informed of status throughout the process. They may even sign their debt certificate and have money transferred directly to their bank account. All online. This facility has resulted in a higher service levels for our customers and, reduced processing time. It has created substantial savings in the administration costs.

Policy Context

LÃ¥nekassen, the State Educational Loan Fund, manages student funding at a national level in line with the policies set up by the Ministry of Education and Research. In addition to providing services to Norwegian students in Norway and abroad, EEA citizens may also be eligible for funding. Our services are dependent on close horizontal partnership. All schools and universities in higher education in Norway are our partners. The funding is dependent on formal progress via a combination of exam results and attendance at formally-recognized courses. This information is provided daily through an electronic interface from universities and schools. Updated information is then made available at individual level and can provide vital check points to enable rapid application handling. The handling period from date of receipt of application to the date funds are transferred to the specified bank account can be as little as four days. In 2006, LÃ¥nekassen administered a capital of NOK 100 billion (EUR 12 billion). To avoid abuse of the system it is imperative that the correct amount is paid to the right person. The Norwegian Tax Administration provides information on bank account ownership which is cross-referenced against the student's Norwegian national identity number. The Internet services provided by LÃ¥nekassen are also available through Norway.no, a gateway to the public sector in Norway. The gateway aims to simplify searching and accessing public information for members of the public. Norway.no is a public agency subordinate to the the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform. The Ministry develops national plans and strategies.

Description of target users and groups

The overall objective of the educational support from Lanekassen is to remove gender and status inequalities and to promote equal opportunities so that the pursuit of education is possible regardless of social/demographic background. It further aims to ensure that the work environment for students is of a good standard so that the students may work effectively. It also seeks to ensure a steady supply of higher educated individuals to the labour market. The target group is Norwegian students in higher education, in Norway or abroad, and former students repaying their loans. The population in Norway is 4.6 million. Lanekassen has about 770,000 customers in total. There are about 280,000 students currently receiving funding and 490,000 customers who are currently repaying their loans. About 20,000 are studying abroad, of whom approximately two-thirds are based in the EU. The average number of visits on the log in self-service, Your pages, is four per customer per year. Another example of e-services for students is the online application, Nettsaknaden. The target group for the Nettsaknad is students in higher education in Norway and abroad. More than 90% of this group elect to make their application online. The student's choice to use Lanekassen's e-services helps make Lanekassen one of the most efficient and effective public service providers in Norway.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

LÃ¥nekassen has a project-based approach to new development. Inter-departmental competences are employed in the project group to ensure the right interdisciplinary mix of human resources and capabilities. It is vital that all aspects of the project are addressed. Partnerships between governmental agencies such as Altinn have a committee where representatives from each governmental agency are present. The committee's role is to strategically influence and guide further development of applications and systems. Multi-channel issues: Formal requirements ensure that no-one is excluded from e-services because of either IT constraints or equipment limitations, such as not having access to a pc. Thus LÃ¥nekassen offers a range of multi-channel services: users may apply for deferral of payment by post (using conventional paper application forms), by telephone, or through electronic application. When applying for funding, the student is kept informed of the process both online and via SMS and e-mail. LÃ¥nekassen offers services at all levels of online availability and sophistication. Information: online information about public services Interaction: downloading of application forms and brochures Two-way interaction: processing of forms, including authentication Transaction: full case handling and delivery (payment and signing debt certificate)

Main results, benefits and impacts

System service levels have been increased by the range of diverse and user-friendly facilities that Lånekassen offers customers. The total number of customers we are able to serve has increased dramatically. Customers find it easy to browse general and access relevant information at our web site. We have received awards for these pages on our site, both for the total services available 24/7, and for being highly user-friendly. The total number of visits to our site has increased yearly. See table 1 in document 3.10. It is important for Lånekassen that our costumers can access our services and be able to find answers to their questions at any time during the day, and night. This ability is of great importance to students abroad in particular. Our services also offer personalized information relevant to each customer through Your pages. The customer can find answers to questions they might have regarding their application status and their customer relationship. The information is available from any location, anywhere, at all times, regardless of our opening hours. Customers carry out the searches themselves, in their own time, and are highly satisfied with the freedom this confers upon them. The total number of log-ins to Your pages has increased yearly. See table 2 in document 3.10. Applications processing time is also reduced as a result of online application. All information fields in the application process require accurate completion in order for the application to be sent. Information must also be valid and without 'number recognition' errors - e.g not mistaken number ‘1’ for a number ‘7’. Electronic application for deferred payment was introduced in 2004 and the average processing time for all applications has since been reduced from 18 to nine days (2004-2006). Average processing time for web applications is only a couple of days. An additional benefit that has been gained from the successful introduction of self-services is a streamlined workforce: numbers have been reduced from 372 in 2004 to 311 in 2006. The total number of web applications has increased yearly. See table 3 in document 3.10. Overall control levels have increased dramatically by online applications. And the system help functions, provided with the application forms, have contributed to much higher degrees of accurate data entry. Further controls are implemented through the interfaces in place between our partners and us. Cost benefit. Examples: Secure personal mail box facilities were introduced in 2006. A 10% reduction in mailing costs will be achieved during the first year. This saving will rise rapidly in line with increased electronic communication. During the first year, a total of 500,000 letters will be replaced by electronic communication delivered direct to a customer’s secure personal mail box. This brings a 17% reduction in print and mailing costs. Student web application was introduced in 2002 for all students in higher education. From 2004 till 2006, the average processing time for applications has been reduced from 14 to eight days. The number of applications processed automatically (unaided by human beings) has increased from 42% in 2004 to 56% in 2006 for all applications, and 70% for web applications. In addition to reduced processing time and increase in automatically-processed applications, there has been a consequent reduction in labour costs along with reception and registration costs. For example, registration costs have been cut by approximately EUR 1.5 for each web application. See table 4 in document 3.10. Levels of control have also increased dramatically through online applications: accurate and relevant information is received; mistakes and incomplete information has been eliminated. Cross-references relating to electronically-transferred information from our partners helps ensure a high level of control. Innovation: Lånekassen is at the forefront in providing innovative online services. One of the key advantages the system now provides is for students to open and manage their own personalized loan account. Lånekassen is also the first organisation to introduce secure electronic signing of loan documents by using public key infrastructure (pki). This means that our users can opt to have a 100% digital relationship with Lånekassen. A great number of web services are available for our customers on Your Pages. The customers can: • see information about the progress and result of the application • see exam results • access personal mail box • change their personal profile • order a personal PIN • choose electronic signature • view their own level of personal debt • check their next instalment • view their plan for repayment • see the latest movements on their account • find tax information for the inland revenue • see their last registered payment • apply for payment deferral • apply for fixed interest rate

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

LÃ¥nekassen is responsible for developing public key infrastructure for widespread use by other governmental agencies in Norway. This work has formed the basis for specifications to all governmental agencies when implementing public key infrastructure. LÃ¥nekassen was an important player in developing Mypage, the Norwegian government's web portal for citizens, and Altinn, the Norwegian government's web portal for industry.

Lessons learnt

1. The public will use online services which provide useful and quality facilities and which are provided in an easy-to-access and understand manner. 2. There are mutual benefits and gains to be had for both parties through an open exchange of information and competences as well as the functional exchange of data. 3. The key challenge has been to combine user-friendly methods with secure system requirements.

Scope: National