Closing the disadvantage gap

By Charley Fowler, Unifrog Area Manager and UK Education Lead

Already in 2021/22, there is a 4% gap in the number of opportunity shortlists being made on Unifrog between advantaged and disadvantaged students in Year 12. At Unifrog, our mission is to level the playing field when it comes to post-school destinations, so we want to change this. 

The shortlisting gap
Our insights tell us that, when comparing Year 12 and Year 13 behaviours, the start of Year 13 is when the shortlisting gap is at its widest. This is the gap between the percentage of advantaged and disadvantaged students who have made a university shortlist.

However, addressing this issue needs to start early. The end of the spring term and the beginning of the summer term of Year 12 is when the gap grows the most.

Why is shortlisting important? 
Earlier this month, the universities minister highlighted the importance of students understanding the quality of courses they apply for, citing education providers with drop-out rates of over 40%. It is unjust that students from disadvantaged areas are accessing this data less frequently, and later, than their more advantaged peers.

Shortlists are an excellent way for students to collate the data they’ve found on different universities. They empower students to make informed decisions, navigate the application process successfully, and ensure they have the best chance of thriving in whatever destinations they move on to.

On Unifrog, students can shortlist university courses, apprenticeship pathways and further education courses. When they finish a shortlist, they are provided with links to explore further information, such as the course module outlines, financial support or the institution’s website. 

How can we start to close the gap? 
There are a broad range of factors leading to inequalities amongst students when it comes to considering post-school destinations. However, there are several ways you can make a positive impact on the disadvantaged students at your school or college: 
  • Start as early as possible - encourage students to complete their university shortlists as early as possible in Year 12. Even if you have a ‘Futures’ week or similar in the summer, before then students could be considering their options, even just for the sake of identifying what definitely does not interest them. 
  • Ensure students are finishing their shortlists - completing a shortlist means taking the time to research thoroughly. For example, there are five steps to completing a shortlist on Unifrog. If your students are only making it to the longlist of results at the third step, they are missing out on access content that will empower them. If you’re not a Unifrog partner, make sure you meet with your students regularly and review potential courses together, assessing course information thoroughly.  
  • "Tell me and I’ll forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll learn” - creating shortlists could facilitate conversations with form tutors, parents or even during lessons, so students gain an understanding of where their school or college courses could lead in the future. Avoid assuming that students will complete shortlists independently. 

You can find a variety of teaching resources to support effective shortlisting in Unifrog’s Resources library. Ask your Account Manager for further guidance about using Unifrog to report specifically on your disadvantaged students. 

Unifrog is an ASCL Premier Partner, and event sponsor for ASCL Annual Conference 2022.  Charley Fowler, UK Education Lead at Unifrog will be leading the workshop Reducing NEETS: Working together to raise aspirations and close the gap at Annual Conference at 12.40pm on Friday 11 March. 
Posted: 08/03/2022 15:10:19