Unistats is one of the most widely used higher education course comparison web-sites in the UK for prospective students, their parents and advisers [Note 1]. Over the past year, it has attracted more than 250,000 unique visitors and over 5.2 million page views, helping to match students to universities and colleges.
Universities Minister David Willetts will formally announce the updates in a speech later today at Gresham College. He said:
‘We are empowering people by publishing unprecedented levels of information on their options.
‘It is making a real difference and more students than ever before are now getting their first choice university place.
‘The next stage is to let people access Unistats on their mobiles, at a time and place of their choosing.’
Introducing Unistats 2013
Unistats now has the latest data on courses for academic year 2013-14 [Note 2]. The site has also been improved after user testing and feedback [Note 3] to help students, their parents and advisers find and compare courses more easily, including [Note 4]:
- a new mobile version of the web-site. Students can now use their smartphones to search for courses and compare them on the go
- our course assistant tool, which is an interactive step-by-step guide to choosing a course, has been improved to include more course criteria
- an enhanced search function to enable users to filter by course location.
We have refreshed the Unistats communications toolkit, which provides schools, careers advice organisations, and universities and colleges with resources to help raise awareness of Unistats. Users can follow @UnistatsUK on Twitter to keep up-to-date with key developments [Note 5].
HEFCE is leading a UK-wide review of the provision of information on higher education. The review will look at how prospective students make choices about what and where to study, and whether there is scope to improve the collection and dissemination of information [Note 6].
Heather Fry, HEFCE Director (Education and Participation), said:
‘The Unistats web-site and the creation of the Key Information Set has been a significant development in providing independent and comparable information to prospective students and their advisers. I am pleased that we have now been able to incorporate the latest trends in technology. We have developed a mobile version of the site and a new Twitter account, to engage with potential users of our web-site and to help support their decision-making. As our review of the provision of information continues, I hope that we can successfully engage the relevant communities in developing a new and improved model of information that meets a diverse range of needs.’
Rachel Wenstone, NUS Vice President (Higher Education) said:
‘Deciding what to study and where to go to university is a big decision and it is crucial that prospective applicants have relevant, impartial information in an easily accessible format. I’m really pleased that the improvements to the site have been made with students, parents and carers in mind and I hope it will contribute to helping even more students make the right application choices.
‘The information available needs to be combined with an understanding of the learning environment, the relationship between students and staff, as well as the role of student representation, all of which are such important factors in empowering individuals to make the right choices for them.’
- The Unistats web-site was re-launched in September 2012 with a new set of data called the Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS provides extensive information for over 36,000 courses in the UK, including student satisfaction ratings, graduate salaries and employment, tuition fees and financial support, and the cost of accommodation. The data for each course link directly to the relevant university or college course web page, which provides more detail. They are derived from the National Student Survey (NSS), the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) and institutional data. HEFCE administers Unistats on behalf of the UK higher education funding bodies. The web-site is also available in the Welsh language.
- The KIS covers full-time and part-time undergraduate higher education courses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for 2013-14 which subscribe to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). It also covers undergraduate programmes taught through further education colleges in England and Wales (this applies to colleges funded indirectly through a higher education institution and for courses HEFCE funds directly). The KIS does not cover short courses (one year full-time equivalent or less), postgraduate courses, those delivered entirely overseas, or closed courses.
- ‘Early Evaluation of Unistats User Experiences’ was commissioned by the UK higher education funding bodies and carried out by the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) in partnership with The Careers Research & Advisory Centre (CRAC). The research took place in the three months immediately after the launch of the new Unistats web-site, and included fieldwork observation of groups of users, an online survey and web statistics analysis. Users included prospective and current students, parents, teachers, careers advisers and higher education outreach workers.
- HEFCE, on behalf of all of the UK funding bodies, commissioned a complete redesign of the mobile version of the Unistats web-site. This enables users to more easily search and compare courses using a smartphone interface. We have made improvements to the functionality of the web-site. Users can now search for courses by their location, i.e. courses within 20 miles of a particular postcode. We’ve also improved the course assistant tool, which takes users through an interactive step-by-step process to find the right course that meets their individual needs.
- The communications toolkit contains posters, flyers, videos and banners to help promote the web-site. This year, there is a video which outlines the site’s functionality and introduces the new features. There is a 60-minute lesson plan for colleges, schools and careers organisations to help teach users how to find information about UK undergraduate courses and how to compare them on the Unistats web-site. We have launched a @UnistatsUK Twitter account to help engage students through the medium of social media.
- For further information, see the HEFCE web pages on the Review of the provision of information about higher education.