Picking your university can be a daunting task. But universities minister David Willetts asks – how can you choose if you don’t have all the information you need?
Going to university is a life changing experience. But when I was a sixth former, prospectuses were just about the only source of information about universities and the courses they offered.
Nowadays applicants expect – quite rightly – to make a well-informed choice. They recognise that choosing the right university and the right course is a big decision. They want to get the most out of their degree, while they are studying and throughout their lives.
There are no right or wrong reasons to go to university. Some people want to pursue their love of a particular subject; many need a specific qualification to enter their career of choice – medicine or engineering, for example; others view higher education as an investment that will boost their future earning potential. All are equally valid.
Whatever their motivation, we want prospective students to have the relevant information at their disposal.
Getting universities information right
On 27 September the government’s launching a new, standardised set of data called the Key Information Set (KIS). It will provide factual information for every course at every university – more than 31,000 courses in all.
The KIS will be freely available on the government’s Unistats website, helping people compare accommodation costs, frequency of access to tutors and the kind of jobs that graduates go on to from individual courses.
Too much information can often be daunting and confusing, however, which is why Which?’s new website, Which? University, can serve a useful role by offering data in a simple and innovative way. Anything that helps prospective students zero in on the best course for their needs and ambitions is a valuable tool.
My hope is that improving the availability and presentation of information about higher education will not only make choosing a university easier, but will encourage universities to focus even more on the quality of their teaching and the overall student experience.
What was your priority when you were looking for uni? And if you could go back in time to when you first applied, what was the one piece of information you feel you were missing?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from David Willetts, minister of state for universities and science – all opinions expressed here are David’s own, not necessarily those of Which?