Keep it real and independent when it comes to uni advice, demands new 1994 Group survey

When it comes to decisions about university choices, students are crying out for impartial advice and first hand experience, according to a poll commissioned by the 1994 Group of leading universities.

The findings come as the Group, in association with student advice site Push.co.uk, launches ‘UniQs’, an innovative new online tool to help applicants find the best information on the web and understand how to use it.

UniQs will address the needs highlighted in the survey by allowing university applicants to draw on the direct judgement of peers and experts – rather than a regular internet search – in assessing which information is the most useful.

Professor Janice Kay, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter and Chair of the 1994 Group Student Experience Policy Group, said: “One of the major factors in having a good university experience is being able to get hold of the right information during the application process. Good information means good decisions on where to apply and what courses to study. However, the vast range of information available can be quite bewildering. As the ComRes survey has shown, people are most likely to trust independent online information, alongside the personal views of real people. UniQs is an attempt to bring the virtues of these together in a single resource.”

Johnny Rich, Managing Director of Push, which developed UniQs as a joint project with the 1994 Group, with support from JISC, commented: “There’s a lot of information on the web about universities and student life. Not all of it is good and not all of it makes sense to applicants. UniQs is a really exciting and innovative way of using cutting edge technology to sort through the noise to deliver answers to students, wherever they look for them. 

“The version we are launching today is just a starting point. Universities, schools, experts and the nation as a whole need to get behind this project to help students get the most out of everything our universities have to offer by suggesting more links and rating information. This type of crowd-sourcing combined with independent expertise will be a new way of providing the impartial, first-hand insight students can trust.”

UniQs will:

·         Use a proprietary search algorithm to sort the wide range of information already available online into detailed topics that prospective students want to know about;

·         Provide a list of links direct to pre-screened online information relating to the user’s enquiry (for example online university prospectuses, bestCourse4Me, Brightside and Unistats);

·         Offer impartial guidance establishing the context for information each site provides, how best to use that information and what else to consider;

·         Be fully interactive:

-          Users are able to rate how useful they found the information provided;

-          Information can be ranked according to its relevance or it usefulness (as rated by other users and experts);

-          Users can suggest new and alternative sources of information; and

-          If users can’t find the information need they can make a direct request for it.

·         Be easy to use and written in plain English.




Media Contact:
Mark Fuller

0207 872 5596

07952 286 223



Notes to Editors:

1.    The 1994 Group represents 19 of the UK’s leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.

2.  12 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2012 league tables are 1994 Group members. 8 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Sunday Times University League Table are 1994 Group members. 9 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Complete University Guide are 1994 Group members.

3.  In 17 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders, achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 57% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE).

4.    The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Exeter, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex, University of York.

5.  Push is an independent organisation that researches and publishes information about UK universities and student life at www.push.co.uk and elsewhere. Push also visits hundreds of schools each year delivering a programme of award-winning talks providing prospective students with insight into higher education and choosing a university.

6. ComRes interviewed 2031 adults online between 2nd and 4th December 2011.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Comres is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Each person surveyed was asked the question “To what extent do you trust each of the following as a good source of information about life at university?” The following information sources were offered:


·         Official agencies, like UCAS

·         Individual university’s website and prospectuses

·         Student discussion websites

·         TV programmes featuring university students

·         Newspaper league tables

·         Teachers and careers advisers at school

·         Friends and Family

·         Independent websites and student guides


The results are summarised below.



Official agencies like UCAS

Individual university websites and prospectuses

Student discussion websites

TV programmes

Newspaper league tables

Teachers and career advisers in school

Friends and family

Independent websites and student guides

NET Trust









Trust a great









Trust to some extent









Do not trust at all










Full details of the survey are available via: www.comres.co.uk/polls/1994_Group_Headlines_Nov11.pdf


7.  UniQs is now available online at www.uniqs.ac.uk for use by prospective students and their families. It will shortly be freely available for organisations to download onto their websites.

back to latest news index