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This report for the four UK Higher Education (HE) funding bodies is drawn from a number of academic disciplines. The findings will inform the Funding Councils’ Review of the Provision of Information about higher education for students.

The UK HE funding bodies, working with universities and colleges, students and related organisations, are reviewing the provision of information about higher education. A key purpose of providing information about higher education is to support prospective students when they make decisions about their future studies. 

The report, which was produced by CFE Research, summarises existing research into decision-making behaviour. Relevant research was identified across a wide range of disciplines, including information science, cognitive and behavioural psychology, behavioural economics and social theory. This research is likely to be relevant to how prospective students make their higher education choices. 

Key findings in the report include:

  • The decision-making process is complex, personal and nuanced, involving different types of information, messengers and influences over a long time. This challenges the common assumption that people primarily make objective choices following a systematic analysis of all the information available to them at one time.
  • Greater amounts of information do not necessarily mean that people will be better informed or be able to make better decisions. 

The Funding Councils have already found that this study aligns well with fieldwork undertaken with prospective postgraduate students about the information they think will be most helpful in supporting their decision-making.