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Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.
Mike Boxall, an independent researcher and consultant on higher education policies and strategies, and a senior adviser to PA Consulting, considers the emerging post-COVID world and its implications for the future of universities. His blog is based on a paper published recently by PA Consulting, and co-authored with its HE lead, Ian Matthias.
The Westminster government should wake up to the full potential of higher education to help it meet its ‘levelling up’ goals, argues Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce another remarkable milestone in the Unibuddy journey as we launch a ground-breaking partnership with UK admissions service UCAS, one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in education.
This is a great day for me and the entire team at Unibuddy as we think back to 2017 when Unibuddy launched with only five university partners. Our online platform, connecting university applicants to existing students, scaled quickly and we now collaborating with almost 200 universities worldwide, touching the lives of over 77,000 students who have used the platform in 180 countries.
We started discussions with UCAS back in August 2018, and completed a pilot with several universities in July this year. Seeing the strong uptake of the service by students and great results for our partner universities, the platform will go live in November.
Once live, the 700,000 students who apply to UK universities each year will be given the opportunity to discover more about Higher Education institutions up and down the country, straight from the students that are studying there right now. From questions about the social scene and moving away from home, to how easy it is to make friends, every prospective student will have specific concerns that only existing learners, on the ground, can address. Prospective students can use Unibuddy at every stage of the process: from exploring their options, all the way through to accepting their offers and enrolling.
Student wellbeing has been at the forefront of people’s minds in higher education for many years, with significant resource being spent on supporting students. On our side, we want to do our bit. Given the enormous demands on students today, from financial concerns to academic pressures, our biggest priority is supporting every student to make as informed a choice as possible about their university and course of study. The goal is to increase the chances of them feeling fulfilled and happy at their destination university.
From a university perspective, recruitment teams will be keen that students complete their course. We believe that helping students make the right choice will have an impact on retention, reducing the risk of churn and lost income for institutions.
The platform can also be transformative for universities in recruiting domestic and international students. Universities and their ambassadors can be found through subject searches, appealing to applicants who may never have previously considered them, or to applicants travelling from afar that are not able to see the university live in action. Crucially, the product also supports widening participation and access work as students can obtain reassurance from existing learners who may have similar backgrounds.
What it comes down to is this - by democratising the application process for students as well as providing immense data learning opportunities for universities via millions of conversations, we believe that connections are the key to decision-making. We’re super excited to see how Unibuddy on UCAS develops and provides real impact for students.
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