KEEP IT REAL AND INDEPENDENT WHEN IT COMES TO UNI ADVICE, DEMANDS NEW 1994 GROUP SURVEY
When it comes to decisions about university choices, students are crying out for impartial advice and first hand experience, according to a poll commissioned by the 1994 Group of leading universities.
The findings come as the Group, in association with student advice site Push.co.uk, launches ‘UniQs’, an innovative new online tool to help applicants find the best information on the web and understand how to use it.
UniQs will address the needs highlighted in the survey by allowing university applicants to draw on the direct judgement of peers and experts – rather than a regular internet search – in assessing which information is the most useful.
The poll, carried out last month, found that people consider friends and family to be the most trustworthy source of information about university - with 88% of people surveyed trusting them. Independent websites also featured highly (79%), as did teachers and careers advisers (77%). UniQs combines the virtues of these information sources, creating an expert independent online resource which will develop further through the experiences of its users.
UniQs will be available as a widget that can be easily embedded and hosted on any website as well as on UniQs.ac.uk. In just a few clicks, it will help students find reliable answers whatever their question about higher education and will provide a context for the information they will find online.
Professor Janice Kay, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter and Chair of the 1994 Group Student Experience Policy Group, said: “One of the major factors in having a good university experience is being able to get hold of the right information during the application process. Good information means good decisions on where to apply and what courses to study. However, the vast range of information available can be quite bewildering. As the ComRes survey has shown, people are most likely to trust independent online information, alongside the personal views of real people. UniQs is an attempt to bring the virtues of these together in a single resource.”
Johnny Rich, Managing Director of Push, which developed UniQs as a joint project with the 1994 Group, with support from JISC, commented: “There’s a lot of information on the web about universities and student life. Not all of it is good and not all of it makes sense to applicants. UniQs is a really exciting and innovative way of using cutting edge technology to sort through the noise to deliver answers to students, wherever they look for them.
The version we are launching today is just a starting point. Universities, schools, experts and the nation as a whole need to get behind this project to help students get the most out of everything our universities have to offer by suggesting more links and rating information. This type of crowd-sourcing combined with independent expertise will be a new way of providing the impartial, first-hand insight students can trust.”
• Use a proprietary search algorithm to sort the wide range of information already available online into detailed topics that prospective students want to know about;
• Provide a list of links direct to pre-screened online information relating to the user’s enquiry (for example online university prospectuses, bestCourse4Me, Brightside and Unistats);
• Offer impartial guidance establishing the context for information each site provides, how best to use that information and what else to consider;
• Be fully interactive:
- Users are able to rate how useful they found the information provided;
- Information can be ranked according to its relevance or it usefulness (as rated by other users and experts);
- Users can suggest new and alternative sources of information; and
- If users can’t find the information need they can make a direct request for it.
• Be easy to use and written in plain English.
ComRes interviewed 2031 British adults online between 2nd and 4th December 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB British adults. Comres is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.