I can’t imagine buying a car without doing a bit of research beforehand, checking to find out what sort of performance and economy I’ll get at the very least.
Yet strangely finding out information regarding college and university courses seems to be far harder than gathering detailed specifications for almost any car produced since the war. This is a particular issue for me currently as my elder Son is in the final stages of deciding at which University to study this September.
David Willets recently announced the coalition Government’s commitment to providing better data with which students can decide their future in education. [http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Commons/bydate/20110217/writtenanswers/…] As course fees rise, this information will become more and more important. In HE they are piloting the Key Information Sheets (KIS) as a way of providing comparable data covering things potential students have identified as being critical in informing their decisions.
JISC e-learning projects have explored how potential students can be better prepared for HE – both socially and academically. For example, a project at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), TAG, allows potential applicants to develop realistic expectations of study at UCLan, from application to first assessment.
KIS is not currently being made available for Further Education which has a different set of drivers, and appears to be bound by geographical decisions, although there appear to be discussions afoot with BSI and AoC.
The TBYA Project at North West Regional College aims to investigate how students select their courses in FE. By providing a Virtual Pre Course taster area, the aim could be seen as being almost “anti-marketing”, but should ensure a student cohort that is committed to the course, and thus improve retention.
More information about the project can be found :[http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/swaniltig/trybeforeyouapp…]