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‘Good universities should have nothing to hide’ - 1994 Group Executive Director calls for more transparent, accurate and accessible information for university applicants

Issued on 23 March 2010

Speaking at the Information, Advice and Guidance for Young People National Conference in London today (Tuesday 23 March), Paul Marshall, Executive Director of the 1994 Group said:

“Providing transparent and accurate information about universities, and the nature of what they offer, should be a priority in delivering excellent student experience. Students need clear and accessible information to enable them to understand the choices available. Prospective students deserve more than glossy advertising prospectuses to inform crucial decisions about which university to attend and which course to study.”

“Good universities should have nothing to hide. It is time for universities and government to work together to provide the clear and reliable information that students have a right to see.”

The 1994 Group has been campaigning for three years to improve the transparency and accuracy of information available to prospective students. Today the 1994 Group announced that it has begun work on a pilot JISC-funded project which will produce a high-quality, interactive, online resource aimed at international and domestic students, their parents and families. Digital technologies are at the heart of enhancing the student’s experience of their time at university and this work will not only benefit those who are within the 1994 Group but all UK universities.

The pilot online resource will help manage student expectations of university learning, better inform the decisions of applicants, and better explain the type of academic contact that is on offer at universities in the UK. It will also provide guidance for navigating existing information websites, in response to the National Student Forum’s request for a ‘first port of call’ portal, which would ‘bring together the full range of factors that prospective students need to be aware of in order to make an informed decision about entry to higher education’.

Paul Marshall concluded:

“By providing applicants with the information they have a right to know, coupled with advice and guidance on how to make use of it, we can shape student expectations of university, and achieve our goal of improving progression routes to leading research-intensive universities.”

Dr Malcolm Read executive secretary at JISC says: “Putting information online is key to offering learners and future researchers the best possible insight of what it will be like to study a particular subject at the university of their choice.”

“In the long term it will also enhance student attraction and retention rates, as learners and researchers are able to gain a stronger understanding of whether the university and subject fits their needs before walking through the door.”

Notes to Editors

  1. For further details about the JISC funded project to provide better information to inform the decisions of university applicants, or an interview with Dr Harriet Dunbar-Goddet who is leading the project, please contact Alistair Jarvis, Director of Communications, 1994 Group. Tel: 0207 872 5596 or 07779 232731.
  2. Paul Marshall was speaking at the Information, Advice and Guidance for Young People National Conference, on Tuesday 23rd March 2010 at the Inmarsat Conference Centre, London EC1 organised by NSA and supported by the Learning and Skills Network, STEMNET and MIAP.
  3. The 1994 Group represents 19 of UK's leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.
  4. In 17 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 57% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE). 7 of the top 10 universities for student experience are 1994 Group Universities (2009 National Student Survey) 1994 Group members include 10 of the top 18 universities in the UK in The Guardian University Guide League Table published on the 12th May 2009.
  5. The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Exeter, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex, University of York.
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