Image to illustrate 2019 review

 by Jon Cheek
, posted On 1 Jul '19

Reviewing the university guidance provided by schools and colleges. What is next?

This is the text from my July 2019 article in the Career Development Institute's Career Matters magazine. launched a national review of the university information, advice and guidance provided in secondary schools and colleges. This explored when university guidance was starting, what gaps and barriers there are for schools accessing university provision, what schools considered to be the biggest obstacle to the higher education progression of students as well as the variation in practice relating to university guidance both regionally and nationally.

The results report on a representative sample of 745 responses and I will share some key findings here.

Finance is not only the greatest barrier to university for students, it is the greatest barrier to university visits too

You won’t be shocked to read that student fees and finance has again been highlighted as the significant barrier to the university participation of students – with 62% of school and college staff stating they considered the largest barrier for students to be tuition fees and living costs.

What was more surprising in the results, was the greatest barrier to university visits for schools and colleges was also considered to have a financial remit – specifically the cost of transport to attend a university event.

When will students start their university guidance? The answer is dependent on the school and college they attend

Variation in practice is clear in the full results – none more so in relation to when university engagement in schools was starting. For 59% of institutions this came before students started year 10, but unfortunately for the others it came later, and after a student would have picked their initial GCSE option choices. This of course may impact on subsequent university decisions.

Image to show links

What is next? Post-review discussion points:

1. Multiple reports, including this review, cite university fees and finance as a major barrier to higher education. For some students this could simply be a misunderstanding of the student finance system. It is critical that organisations and universities across the sector continue to address any misconceptions through informative and engaging student finance guidance, before and after the outcomes of the recently piublished student finance review is announced.

2.There is an expectation that schools and colleges will meet the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Yet, findings within this report suggest that transport costs for university events are a key barrier to university visits across all regions. It is important that university outreach programmes look at ways of addressing barriers such as transport costs. This also adds weight to the potential for funding streams be developed to support schools struggling to attend university events as well.

3. Findings within the review suggest that almost four out of ten schools do not engage in university guidance until students reach Year 10 or above and 22% of institutions felt that engagement started too late. A lack of information about university at this stage (before GCSE option choices) may result in a student not making option choices to match their future university aspirations. This again opens the door to the need for university guidance in schools and colleges to be provided earlier than it currently is.

Please read and share the full report

The full 35 page report, including the executive summary is available at:

Teachers, careers colleagues and support staff: request your FREE UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

This brochure has been produced by in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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