Google searches on student aid 'less likely to be from low participation areas'

Young people in areas of high university participation are more likely to turn to Google for information about financial aid, a new study suggests

March 14, 2015

Research by higher education marketing firm Net Natives, in partnership with the Office for Fair Access, has revealed that while, unsurprisingly, students who live in high participation regions are more likely to search for university-related terms, they are also more likely to investigate what financial support is available to support their study.

The report warns that those in low participation regions are not even beginning to consider the possibility of attending university, and suggests that current bursaries might not be the best way to increase participation in higher education since those looking for financial support are in fact from the high participation regions.

Les Ebdon, director of Offa, said the findings would “be of great help to universities seeking to target support and promote fair access”.

The report did highlight some exceptions to the rule. Nottinghamshire, which it says is regarded as the fifth lowest region for participation, had more university-related searches per person (aged 15 to 21) than all but four other regions. However, when looking at searches related to financial support, the county had lower than average figures.

There was also a core group of regions, including Bristol and Isle of Wight, that were recognised as low participation areas but had a higher than average search ratio of people searching for student financial support.

Don Skinner, digital director at Net Natives, said: “Whilst we have made progress in understanding when and where some widening participation students go for information, there is a bigger challenge to spark interest in those not yet considering higher education at all.”

For a copy of the report, register here.

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