Student choice

Our ground-breaking student choice project

The problem

Are you confused by university choices? Overwhelmed by complicated statistics and confused by conflicting league tables? Well you’re not alone. Our research has shown that over 70% of sixth-formers find navigating university choice difficult and stressful. To make matters worse, university marketing departments are on recruitment overdrive as they seek to get as many bums on seats as possible! So you’ll no doubt be receiving marketing materials galore telling you that this university is “number one for teaching” or that university “has the most satisfied students ever!”

Our solution

Having surveyed thousands of potential university applicants we have realised that what is needed is a more personalised service. Something to help you cut through the chaos and find the find the best university match for you. You wouldn’t choose a life-long partner by scanning through a league table of potential suitors, and you wouldn’t buy a house without knowing whether it’s in an area you would feel happy and it fits with your long-term plans. So why do you have to do this with your higher education choices?

We are now building a free-to-use, personalised web-based service to help university applicants make choices based on factors that are important to them as individuals. It will also integrate sophisticated personality profiling to help students identify universities which best meet their own learning styles, social interests and future career aspirations.

The Higher Education Open Data Competition

As winners of the Department for Education’s ‘Higher Education Open Data Competition’, UNI4U worked in partnership with Sheffield-based HiveIT to undertake user research with sixth formers across Milton Keynes and Sheffield. We mapped out user journeys and worked with the sixth form students to research, co-create and test a prototype to meet their needs.

We undertook user research sessions with sixth formers from across Milton Keynes. This involved exploring students’ user journeys: from when they first thought about applying to university to how they research their course and university choices.

Next we began co-creating a prototype with the students. We took an iterative approach to developing, initially working with sixth form students from across Milton Keynes to  draw up wireframe plans.

Then we worked with students from the University Technical College, Sheffield to test the logic of these initial wire-framed designs.

This user-testing between students in Milton Keynes and Sheffield enabled us to enhance the prototype through several iterations to develop a high-fidelity, front end prototype.


At the end of the project some of the sixth form students accompanied us down to Imperial College, London, where they had the opportunity to demonstrate the prototype to the then Higher Education Minster Sam Gyimah and engage with him on questions around the future of higher education.

We’re now working to develop the tool fully so we can launch it in summer 2019.

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