Thirty-nine per cent of prospective students aged 19 and under didn’t receive any one-to-one advice from a teacher or careers advisor when choosing a university, according to new Which? research.
That could equate to more than 150,000 prospective students each year making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives without essential information or advice.
Update: Which?’s free, independent website for students – Which? University – has now launched. You can use it to search for, find and compare undergraduate degree courses and get a flavour of what it’s like to live, study and socialise at different universities and colleges.
Choosing a university course
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘It’s worrying how many young people are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives without proper guidance or advice. This has huge implications for their future and finances, so it’s vital that they choose the right course and university for them.
‘Young people are taking out huge loans to pay for university, so they should seek independent advice as anyone would when making such an important financial decision, especially in the current financial climate. As the government devolves responsibility for careers advice to schools, head teachers must ensure that young people are getting the advice they need.’
Financial worries over uni
Given fee increases and young people leaving university with record debts, we perhaps unsurprisingly found that worries about finances were a concern. 77% of the 699 students we surveyed said they want to limit the amount of debt they have when they leave university, while more than half have researched additional costs of university beyond the course fee.
Which? is launching a new, free website this autumn, Which? University, to help students make the right choices, and have access to as much relevant and unbiased information and advice as possible.
Tips for Clearing
As A-level results day approaches, we’ve got some tips to help students get prepared in case they don’t get the grades they expected. Each year up to 10% of students go through Clearing to get a university place.
• Do your homework: if you’re worried you might not get your grades then don’t wait until results day to get prepared. Note down phone numbers of your first and insurance choices and make a list of other universities you’d consider attending.
• Get advice: if you don’t get the results you need, speak to teachers and careers advisors about what your options are and make sure friends and family are on hand to provide advice and moral support.
• Make the best impression: arm yourself with extra information that could swing the decision in your favour, such as relevant work experience, awards or achievements that aren’t already on your UCAS form.
• Don’t panic: places can go quickly, but avoid the temptation to take the first offer. Consult UCAS and the Telegraph for details of courses available and check course details on the university’s website.
• Remember the four Rs: research the university, have clear reasons for your choice, rationalise so you are prepared to explain why your grades were disappointing and rehearse answers to questions admissions staff are likely to ask you.