The best ways to learn about a particular university or course include attending open days and speaking to current undergraduates and lecturers about course content.
But a survey carried out by consumer group Which? has found that nearly a quarter of youngsters didn’t attend any open days at all before completing their UCAS applications.
Even though they face paying university tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year, more than half of the young people questioned said they hadn’t talked to students at the institutions they applied to and nearly half hadn’t talked with teaching staff.
The study also revealed that only a quarter of applicants aged 19 or under felt they had been given enough advice by their school or college to make an informed choice.
One in five felt the advice they had received about their A level options failed to take into account which subjects would be seen positively by universities while a quarter said that in hindsight they would have chosen different A levels for the degrees they had applied for.
Staff at Which? said they were concerned that many young people did not have access to enough information and advice when making their university choices. The organisation also called for more information to be made available on the academic experience at universities and students’ future employment prospects.
Commenting on the findings, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Going to university is a hugely significant financial decision so it’s worrying that so many young people say they didn’t do enough research before applying or that the advice they received wasn’t up to scratch.
“The vast majority of prospective students are going through this process for the first time, making it vital that they have proper guidance and as much information as possible to help them make the right choice.”
Researchers questioned more than 1,000 applicants who intend to start university in September. More than two-thirds of them were aged 19 or under.