Information, advice and guidance
Discover 'Discover Uni'
The Office for Students has launched a new website for prospective students called Discover Uni. The site, which has replaced Unistats, is split into two parts – one providing information about higher education options and the university experience, with advice on whether university is the right choice for each student, how to pay for it and how to choose a course - the other is a search engine where students can access data on specific courses and universities.
The OfS have done a good job of not overwhelming their audience with too much information and instead, they have broken it down into sub-sections, giving brief and direct answers. The website as a whole is easy to navigate and the information, advice and guidance is presented in a very clinical way, allowing the audience ease of access to key information. This layout might also be due to an awareness that the student population are likely to access the website on their phones. Moreover, Discover Uni is not just limited to those living and studying in England but it holds important information for students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – it can even be viewed in Welsh. Specifically, there are links to sites where students can find and apply for apprenticeships in each location as well as individual pages for financial information and advice.
In fact, Discover Uni often encourages students to look elsewhere for further information on a selected topic, whether it’s to one of their internal webpages such as their employment prospects page, or to outside sources such as UCAS, the Student Room, Access to Higher Education and the National Careers Service or other similar services (NI Direct, Careers Wales). Whilst Discover Uni provides vital information and can be incredibly useful, the site acknowledges the importance of other providers in advising students and are therefore giving them the whole picture.
As well as focusing on helping students to make the right choice for them, there is also information on this site for other options. For example, in the first section, students can find out about alternative qualifications, the different level of apprenticeship qualifications and how to factor in other considerations such as personal circumstances. As a result, Discover Uni offers further sources of information and suggest ways to get around these concerns, supplying advice for Access courses or short courses and how to disclose certain things when applying to university or college.
Discover Uni has collection of YouTube videos, featuring ‘student stories’ where different students talk about their experiences of university and/or college. Their video on financial help breaks down the different loans students will receive based on their family’s income. This section also includes information on how much money can be borrowed, when repayments start, when to apply for student finance, budgeting and bursaries, grants and scholarships.
Discover Uni also provides information, slightly echoing some of the data from Unistats, for considerations when choosing a course. This includes student views from the National Student Survey, (teaching) quality and standards, graduate employment prospects, league table information and student support as well as course-specific information such as the location and length of the course, if a placement or foundation year are offered etc. This search engine enables students to find out specific course information in one place. If students are interested in a few universities or courses, they can ‘bookmark’ their choices and review them later on. They also have an alternative way to search for courses where students answer 4 questions to find relevant courses. This method breaks down the search into segments relating to location, type of study and the broad subject area, i.e. Humanities, before asking to narrow the search to a specific university or to near your home. A search summary is then produced with a list of different institutions offering related courses.
The sections for parents and carers and for teachers and advisers are relatively underdeveloped but The Office for Students have said that they will be adding to the website and making changes in due course. Specifically, they are working on creating new material which will complement the career frameworks in the UK.
Overall, the website simplifies the wealth of information surrounding university and/or college choices and the application process, helping students decide if university is the right path for them. As with the other sites we have reviewed in the Advancing Access blog, it is important to note that whilst Discover Uni is a great source of information, advice and guidance for students, especially for those who do not have access to a support network, it should be used in conjunction with the advice and guidance delivered by teachers. Keep a look out for further changes to the site and for teacher support but in the meantime, we would definitely recommend this website to your students.
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