A couple of weeks ago, the content team spent some time going through a ‘Information for Students’ guide from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, but we call it the HEFCE guide (HEFCE stands for Higher Education Funding Council for England, for whom the guide was developed). The guide aims to help universities present good quality information to prospective students.
Digicomms are using this guide to help shape the new 2018 undergraduate pages – this blog post explains what the HEFCE guide is and looks at the information that the undergraduate pages are missing.
Including the right information is essential in terms of consumer protection legislation, and also for user experience. The guide states which information HEFCE thinks universities should be providing and when it should be provided – it also includes examples of how this information should be displayed. Digicomms worked through the document and made a note of all of the information that St Andrews does not currently include on its undergraduate pages.
It is important to note that some of the recommended information does not apply to the University of St Andrews because the HEFCE guide is a document written with English universities in mind.
However, digicomms feel it is important to align the University’s content with industry standards in England, as many prospective students will compare St Andrews with English universities. In addition, similar guidelines could be implemented or suggested in the future in Scotland.
What we don’t include
Overall, we already included a lot of the recommended information. However, we were missing a few bits:
- start and end date of undergraduate courses
- geographic location of study
- timetable information
- how to apply through other routes
- accreditation of prior learning
- an explanation of how the academic year is organised
- a copy of rules and regulations
- optional modules and how those modules are chosen
- teaching and learning information
- assessment and progression information.
Some information on this list is easier to implement than others and digicomms have already drafted text for many of those items listed. However, with things like optional module information, this is where it gets a little more complicated.
This complication arises due to the fact that St Andrews is a Scottish university, where students have a far wider choice of modules at sub-honours. If every optional module was listed, there would be up to a thousand modules on the page. Furthermore, it’s difficult to state how these modules are chosen, because availability depends on a range of factors including staff availability, interest in modules and staff research interest.
There isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ for this information; we need to ensure that the right people are involved with what and how much needs to be said regarding academic progression.
To date, the digicomms team have taken an undergraduate programme and added the information that was missing. The next steps for the team will be to sign off the new content, which can then be added to the new 2018 undergraduate pages.