Leaping up the NSS through service improvements: a case study on using the Chartered ABS professional development matrix

The London Institute of Banking & Finance has jumped from 140th in 2016 to joint second in the 2018 National Student Survey. One may consider this an amazing achievement within a competitive environment where almost all organisations will have some sort of ‘Excellent Student Support’ claim. So how has The London Institute of Banking & Finance managed such an accomplishment in just 24 months?

Courses with industry focus

We focus on providing degrees for those wanting to pursue a career in banking and the wider financial sector, and we’re very proud of what we do and what our students achieve. Our degrees provide rigorous academic study in context, with clear routes into the sector. Therefore keeping our class sizes small and teaching in an area where we already have the contacts with employers are important.

A measure of success for us is how confident our students feel as they embark on their journey into the workplace, as well as the grades they get and what they achieve when they leave us. Thus we have focused on developing our career advice and employability skills to ensure that students are  ‘work-ready’ as well as academically prepared for a life after study.


In the autumn term we introduced a new compulsory module in the first semester of Year 1 on Personal Development and Employability. Students are learning about self-development and reflection, how to create CVs and Cover Letters,  digital literacy skills, learning about assessment centres and interviews, academic writing and referencing, Excel and databases, ethics and presentation skills. These skills are very much in demand amongst employers. We’re also committed to providing students with insights into the future world of working.

We run careers conferences and workshops for our students, attracting some big brand names, including UBS, HSBC and Lloyds, as well as leading FinTechs who come to share their knowledge on career options and latest developments. Through these events and networks, we help many of our students get internships and work experience.

We’re also launching a new ‘nano’ placement programme in spring next year. These placements are designed to be extremely short work placements of around two to three weeks to take place in the university holidays. Students can choose a full-time or part-time nano placement depending on their and the employer’s schedule, and thus create a flexible way to gain work-experience.

So, that’s grades, employability and career outcomes. Is that all?

Student experience

The student experience is extremely important throughout the degree programme. A Student Experience Group is responsible for reviewing student experience. We also use a number of tools to help us gather feedback through the year. These include:

  • The Student / Staff Liaison Committee consists of student representatives from each year group and key staff members across Full-time Programmes, Careers, Facilities, Faculty & Library;
  • Gathering early module feedback after the first four weeks of study;
  • Module level surveys; and
  • An informal suggestion box for students.

Personal support

We have implemented a number of additional support mechanisms to provide students with pastoral and academic support, particularly those we have identified as from underrepresented groups.

Other services including a Student Centre providing confidential support and advice, a Personal Tutor scheme, networking events, a Student Representative Programme, and an outreach ambassador scheme are also aimed at improving the overall student experience.

We keep all the feedback we gather and the support schemes are under ongoing review to ensure we can continually improve the service our students receive.

Overall, we put our improvement down to staying small, knowing our students, reaching out to our stakeholders and remaining agile within an environment that is ever-changing.


Hema Tank is Associate Dean, Degree Programmes at the London Institute of Banking and Finance, and a member of the Chartered ABS Professional Managers Committee.