UCAS has partnered with Edtech startup, Unibuddy, to digitally connect undergraduate applicants to current students at universities and colleges across the UK.
Posted Thu 31 October 2019 - 00:05

In a first of its kind collaboration between UCAS and this high growth start-up, the partnership provides a unique opportunity for higher education providers to engage with students as soon as they start exploring their options through the admissions service’s website.   

Following a successful pilot with several universities in July, the service goes live in November when Unibuddy is embedded into ucas.com, becoming another trusted step in the application journey. Providers that participate through UCAS will have the opportunity to connect with around 700,000 students each year – from initial research, all the way through to acceptance and enrolment.

Insight from UCAS' surveys suggests nearly three quarters of students would have found visiting more universities useful when researching their choices. With travel costs and time cited as the most common reasons preventing open day attendance, the UCAS and Unibuddy partnership offers a free and easy way for students to ask questions to the ambassadors they would meet on campus at an event. Student reviews are also consistently rated as one of the most important determining factors when deciding where to apply.

As numbers of international students coming to the UK continues to grow, the service provides a significant opportunity for universities to maximise their international recruitment. Offering a meaningful way for potential applicants who live abroad to make links with existing students, those travelling from afar can obtain reassuring answers to key questions by like-minded students already in the UK. 64% of students said the ability to connect with other international students influenced their university decision in the 2018 QS International survey.

The new service equally offers significant potential for universities’ recruitment of UK students. Providers and their ambassadors can be found through subject searches and appeal to students who may never have previously considered them. Crucially, the tool also supports widening participation and access work, where UCAS analysis shows progress has slowed in recent years.

UCAS Chief Executive, Clare Marchant, says, ‘The UCAS and Unibuddy partnership opens a new digital door for all students to what life is really like at universities and colleges across the UK. Following the launch of our new Hub in September, this is another key step of UCAS’ journey to provide all students with personalised information and advice through our website, to make informed decisions.

‘Working collaboratively with partners in education and technology enables UCAS to efficiently deliver enhancements benefitting students, their teachers, and universities. Embedding Unibuddy into the UCAS website will give universities and colleges an earlier direct route to engage with students, and give those exploring their options an insight into their future.’  

CEO of Unibuddy, Diego Fanara, is thrilled to see the potential of Unibuddy’s technology integrated within UCAS’ digital framework, and to be collaborating with the UK’s independent and trusted admissions service. 

‘Our individual relationships with almost 200 universities in 27 countries worldwide has allowed 77,000 students from over 180 countries to make better decisions about their higher education. From questions about the social scene and moving away from home, to how easy it is to make friends, every prospective student will have specific concerns that only existing learners, on the ground, can address. Our partnership with UCAS further democratises the application process for students, and provides an immense data learning opportunity for universities via millions of conversations through the service.’ 

About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

UCAS continues to drive digital innovation, inspiring ambition in students as they explore their futures online. The new UCAS Hub, which launched in September, has inspired nearly three quarters of students to consider applying to universities or colleges they hadn’t previously considered.

About Unibuddy

Unibuddy is an online platform connecting university applicants to existing students. Working with almost 200 higher education institutions in 27 countries worldwide, Unibuddy has helped 77,000 students from over 180 countries make better decisions about their higher education journey based on human experience and connectivity, rather than only prospectuses and websites. Unibuddy is a high-growth start-up, founded by Swiss-born Diego Fanara in 2015. It has raised $7m since inception, with investment from Fred Destin of Stride VC, Bart Swanson (seed investor and board member of Zoom), Daniel Borel (co-founder and chairman of Logitech), and Shakil Khan (early investor in Spotify). 

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