After last week’s news of a new ‘Trip Advisor’ style site for colleges from Ofsted, the Government is today launching Unistats, a ‘Go Compare’ style comparison site for students looking at universities. This is from the BBC…
Students are to be given officially-approved key information about university courses – with details of how much it will cost, teaching hours and how much they are likely to earn. This online information is aimed at giving consumer-friendly advice for students facing higher tuition fees. Every one of the 31,000 higher education courses in the UK will carry a link to these “key information sets”. The website is going to be launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The results of this year’s National Student Survey, which measures students’ views on their universities, are also set to be published on Thursday morning.
For the first time, there will be comparable, standardised information for people considering applying for university courses in 2013 – looking at how much it will cost, how they will be taught and how much they might be likely to earn after graduation.
This information on the Unistats website is intended to add greater transparency on what students can expect from courses.
Rather like price comparison websites for financial services, students will be able to draw up their own lists of possible courses and compare them according to a range of preferences – such as tuition fee, the cost of housing or the satisfaction ratings of existing students.
Universities have carried information on their own websites – but this will create a standard format, making the figures comparable.
The information, to be published by the Higher Education Funding Council, is intended to remove some of the confusion for applicants who might not have access to good advice.
With tuition fees rising to up to £9,000 per year for universities in England, students are expected to become more demanding over value for money issues, such as teaching hours and future job prospects.
The key information sets are likely to show what happens to students after they finish courses – such as the proportions going in to work, further study or unemployment.
It also shows the average salary of graduates from the course.
These are expected to be based on figures six months after graduation – and there are likely to be questions about whether earnings at a later date might be more revealing for some courses.
This first year of comparable figures will also raise the question of what students should be told before they sign up.
In response to feedback from students, there will be a satisfaction rating for the students’ union.
The information will also include satisfaction figures from the National Student Survey.
But it will not give any details about the quality of teaching or academic standards.
Here’s a link the the Unistats website which launches this morning