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SUMS academic co-authors study aimed at improving information for students

Tim Vorley

Dr Tim Vorley from Sheffield University Management School (pictured above) and Professor Jennifer Roberts from the School of Economics have co-authored a major advisory study on how prospective students for higher education (HE) institutions use information and make decisions with CFE Research.

The work, commissioned by four UK HE funding bodies, stresses the importance of behavioural influences in understanding decision making in this context.

Professor Mary Stuart, Chair of the Provision of Information Strategic Oversight Group, said: “We are fortunate to have a rigorous, evidence-based piece of work from some of the leading researchers in the field, to provide well-grounded guidance on the way people actually behave.

“Through this work, I am convinced of the need to consider decision-making behaviour more carefully when we provide information to help prospective students and their advisers.”

The report has garnered nation press attention from the Times Higher Education (read the story here). Its key findings include the authors’ conclusion that the decision making process is complex, personal and nuanced – involving different types of information, messages and influences over a long time, challenging the common perception that people primarily make objective choices following a systematic analysis of information available to them at one time.

It also concluded that greater amounts of information don’t necessarily mean that people will be better informed, or be able to make better decisions.

Heather Fry, HEFCE Director of Education, Participation and Students, said: “This report signals a way forward for HEFCE’s approach to providing information to support students as they move into HE. The principles it suggests lay down a solid foundation on which to base our future work in this area.”

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