Managing Students' Expectations of University
This report to illustrate innovative and excellent practice in the areas of: communicating with prospective students; providing information, advice and guidance (IAG) to applicants; managing student expectations of university. It's written for the university sector, but is applicable across all tertiary education organisations.
Author - Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris
Date - November 2010
Published - 1994 Group Student Experience Policy Group: www.1994group.ac.uk/studentexperience.
Link to report - www.1994group.ac.uk/documents/public/101102_ManagingExpectations.pdf
As part of the JISC-funded Student Expectations of University project, aimed at enhancing applicants’ understanding of university experiences, the 1994 Group have produced this report to illustrate innovative and excellent practice in the areas of:
- communicating with prospective students;
- providing information, advice and guidance (IAG) to applicants;
- managing student expectations of university.
All of the examples of best practice given in this report are about universities helping students learn and research as much as possible about their institutions and courses before enrolling, making them therefore less likely to consider dropping out.
The case studies presented highlight the success of engaging students themselves in the provision of IAG. This kind of partnership is particularly valuable when it comes to explaining the difference between learning at school and learning at university which is key to student retention.
The report highlights the need to consider providing IAG in four different areas: capacity building; academic experience; social experience; and professional services; and using a variety of means to achieve this, from websites and web resources to social media.
In an increasingly competitive HE sector the need for the type of IAG highlighted in this report will become more, not less, important, and increasingly so if student contributions to their higher education rise. As the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance indicated, information is essential to deliver choice to a diverse student population, whilst our research indicates that information must be coupled with advice and guidance if it is to drive well-informed decision-making.
The 1994 Group is developing a new online IAG resource, to supplement and complement the variety and comprehensiveness of information already available via a variety of information websites, in the following ways:
- > ensuring all groups of prospective students are catered for, as shown in Loughborough University’s International Students’ Website and Supporting Care Experienced Students work, the University of Exeter’s Interactive Online Resource for Prospective International Research Students, Birkbeck’s Transition to HE project for part-time students, the Institute of Education’s Change to Teach programme for the unemployed, Royal Holloway’s Mature Students’ Engagement initiatives, and the University of East Anglia’s Engagement with International Students;
- using rich media, such as blogs, forums, Youtube, Facebook, etc. to offer applicants a variety of ways to engage with universities, exemplifi ed by the University of Lancaster’s accommodation Facebook group and its Student Charters work, Birkbeck’s Transition into HE online IAG, the University of Exeter’s Welcome Week Memory Card and New Students Information Website, Durham University’s Searchable Online Programme Database for Prospective Students, Goldsmith’s GoSLuRP project’s use of winkball, and the University of Leicester’s Blackboard Taster;
- providing ways in which prospective students can interact with the views of current students, such as blogs, forums, and talking heads, like the University of Reading’s Student Stories resource.