App of the month: help with choosing the right University

There can be few decisions more important than choice of University for young people about to enter their adult life. But how to choose the right one? How much of the available information is fact, and how much of it, mere spin? This month’s app of the month offers not one, but two ways to cut through any hype…

The next generation of students will be able to take greater control of their future career paths through new online apps which, it is promised, will empower them to make better choices about where and what to study.

The UK’s Universities Minister Chris Skidmore, pictured, has unveiled two innovative apps, created by the winners of a Government competition receiving around £150,000 funding each, which set out simple and accessible information about graduate outcomes for prospective students.

The launch of the new tools follows the latest data published by the Department for Education showing graduate earnings broken down by subject, which help students and parents to understand likely earnings and employment outcomes from a range of disciplines.

The new online apps, available to access from the developers’ websites today, will help to revolutionise student choice on their future careers, bringing together data on potential future earnings, with information on careers and employment options, and the quality of teaching in an easy to use format. One works as a personalised digital assistant to access information, while the other is a game where players can simulate career paths.

The tools also aim to help students make more informed decisions about the best course and institution for them, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may receive less help from their parents to navigate university choices.

Mr Skidmore said: “The importance of choosing where and what you study at university cannot be overstated – it will impact the rest of your professional and personal life.

“We have made more information available about institutions and outcomes than ever before, but sometimes the sheer amount of data can be daunting for students to navigate. We want to make it easier and fairer for them to access the information they need to make good higher education and career choices.

“That’s why we’ve turned to the power of technology and funded two new apps, empowering students and ensuring they are well equipped to make these life-changing decisions which will help them succeed.”

Two contracts were awarded to the winners of the Open Data Competition, one to AccessEd for ThinkUni, which offers students a ‘personalised digital assistant’ bringing together data on universities, courses and financial outcomes that are easy to explore and compare.

The Profs  have created TheWayUp!, a game for students to simulate different graduate career paths to help them make better choices about their future. It also aims to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds set aspirational educational and career goals to increase their chances of achieving them.

Both apps are in open beta and are now available online operating with the latest information on universities in the UK.

This work is part of the Department’s drive to improve transparency around higher education data, ensuring that information is easy to access for everyone going to university.

Statistics published by the government in June last year showed which courses and institutions give graduates the best outcomes, in terms of employment, earnings and teaching quality at universities. In addition, the OFS published a data dashboard which helps students to see gaps in access, continuation, success and progression at institutions for different groups such as gender, ethnicity and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Picture: Chris McAndrew