We surveyed over 1,000 students to explore their experiences of university advice in schools and colleges and understand what they wanted to be told before going through the decision-making process.
47% of those started receiving advice and guidance in year 12, 17% in year 11 and 12% in year 10. 67% of students agreed the year their school introduced university engagement was early enough for them.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES
Students revealed most of the information provided by their schools and colleges in those key engagement years focused on the university application process. With 89% receiving support about how to apply to university, 86% receiving support when writing their personal statement and 63% stating they were encouraged to attend a university open day.
The survey revealed a very low proportion of students (39%) were given information about student life at university. This was confirmed by the comments students made about the information they wished they could have received at school:
“More about student life and what a typical day as a student would be like.”
“More information on student finance, time management, budgeting, getting along with new flatmates and the overall basics of adult life.”
“Small tips given by students themselves which correspond to the smaller details in student life; e.g. living with halls and with friends.”
Of the students who received no university support at school, 52% would have liked information about university and student life and 74% wanted to be encouraged to visit a university.
SATISFACTION WITH UNIVERSITY INFORMATION PROVIDED IN SCHOOL
41% of students agreed the information they received at school and college was fit for purpose. But to improve their experience of early engagement and open days, we identified a theme suggesting there should be more communication with current students at their university choices to help them decide.
A huge 78% of students strongly agreed or agreed they wanted more interaction with current students to improve the impact of open days. Students commented:
“I wish I received more talks & Q&As from current students, rather than just from staff. It gives you a better feel for what university is actually going to be like. And when students are involved it makes the entire question and answer experience more comfortable”
“I would’ve liked the opportunity to speak to some previous students that have gone on to attend one of my university choices.”
“There was little engagement with current university students. Schools should have links to current undergraduates, so their students can ask relevant questions”
Students also showed demand for more information regarding finances at university. We found 60% strongly disagreed, disagreed or felt undecided that open days helped them feel confident they could afford university life and balance their finances. When students reflected on what information they wanted to be told at school, some suggested:
“In depth finance break down of the actual expenses to consider.”
“Balancing finances – it’s normally spoken about once you’ve applied and gone to see the universities, but I think it should start earlier.”
“How to budget properly and how to study better in a university environment.”
With more students requesting information outside of the university application process, teachers and school advisers need to do more to paint the picture of student life for potential applicants. This information is just as important; it allows students to picture themselves living and working at your university and reassures them they will be able to settle in quickly.
Interested to find out more? Check out the full report findings here.
We have a segment of approximately 85,000 users looking to apply to university in 2019, if you want to know more about how you can connect with, engage and convert students in this early research stage of their journey, get in touch.