UK Higher Education

Industry-first Clearing tool matches students to uni courses

This week we launched Whatuni Go, our latest product aimed at easing and simplifying the Clearing process for students and institutions. It offers a unique opportunity and is the first time in the UK that students can apply to a course in Clearing and get an instant offer in principle at the click of a button.

Co-created by the IDP Connect product team and student-and-client focus groups, Whatuni Go is a self-serve digital platform that matches qualified prospective students to suitable courses and institutions without the need to pick up the phone.

The tool is aimed at reducing the stress associated with Clearing by allowing students to make informed choices and to apply and receive instant provisional offers. For institutions, it means significantly reduced pressure and required resource for their enrolment teams and access to a wider audience of actively researching prospective students.

Stuart Smith, Director of Product at IDP Connect, describes the product as a matchmaking solution. He says: “Whatuni Go is a market place for Clearing that does the admissions job for a university, thereby making a digital offer that would normally be made by a human being.

“It enables students to get university places effortlessly, understand where they can go, compare institutions and get their perfect place.

“For universities it enables them to recruit students without lots of marketing spend or admissions processing, so it’s using technology to do the job that humans have done previously, taking the stress and effort out for both sides.”

In 2018, 67,000 students were placed in the UK at institutions through Clearing (excluding RPAs), which is equivalent to 12.5% of all placements. Increased competition and growing Clearing applications mean that institutions are now under more pressure than ever before. Michael Arthur, President and Provost at UCL, says: “If we could recruit students through a tool such as this, then we would be able to do that at scale, unlike telephone communications systems, which obviously have their limitations.”

User journey

The tool guides the user through a collection of questions and stages. At the beginning of the journey, users specify which course they’d like to study or which university they’d like to go to. They are prompted to fill out their grades, before being presented with matched results where they can compare their options.

Focused on putting student interests first, Whatuni Go represents the full range of available courses from providers across the UK. Students are also able to access thousands of student reviews, thereby supporting them to make informed choices.

At the next stage, users click through to provider profiles for more detailed descriptions of courses and institutions. This provides an opportunity for institutions to showcase their Clearing-related content to a wide audience of researching prospective students.

Once users have made a decision and filled out an application form, pre-qualified students are able to accept an offer in principle via the click of a button. At this point they are referred to the relevant institution for their data to be downloaded.

Students & institutions: co-creation

Over the last few months, the Whatuni Go team has worked closely with clients and students to ensure that the final product meets the needs and requirements of the end users. From the sector, 14 university representatives from across the country came together to discuss challenges and opportunities presented during Clearing and how a matchmaking tool should be built to be as useful as possible.

From the student side, the Whatuni Go team met with students from across the UK who had gone through Clearing and adjustment. They shared their perceptions and challenges and were asked to test the Whatuni Go prototype.
Some of the key Clearing-related frustrations mentioned by all students included a prevalence of fragmented information, time pressure inhibiting good decision-making and general feelings of stress.

Desires included accessing all options in one place, an ability to apply, compare and accept online in their own time and a stress-free way of finding a course and institution. Their feedback was used to make the tool as user-friendly as possible.

Alexandra Gruian, UX Researcher at IDP Connect, says of the students: “They were all really excited about Whatuni Go – they all mentioned how stressful Clearing had been and how time-pressured they felt – they could really have used a helping hand.”

Sign up to Whatuni Go

Institutions across the UK are encouraged to express their interest in Whatuni Go before 28th February by filling out this form: https://bit.ly/2RXnGUP.
The tool will become available to students across the UK from the beginning of July.

Listen to a live recording of our recent webinar about Whatuni Go.

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