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Amid predictions that higher education will be changed forever by the current pandemic, Professor James Miller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, suggests the innovative ways the sector is responding to the crisis will make it even more valued in the future.
The current crisis has underlined the critical role played by the UK’s experts and researchers and the institutions supporting them, as well as the need for collaboration between them, says Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business.
As a growing number of universities move teaching and assessment online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Derby is holding a virtual conference which aims to support staff in making the transition.
The Office for Students is leaving it up to universities to decide on particular approaches to the Coronavirus pandemic rather than issuing specific guidance, and has promised to minimises its regulatory demands on the sector in response to the crisis.
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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