Which? launches university comparison website

Consumer champion Which? has launched its university comparison website for students.

Which? University, a free independent site, features details of almost 30,000 courses and 262 universities and colleges.

The website allows students to compare courses by price, graduate salaries, required A-level grades and the percentage of applicants who receive an offer to study.

It also uses data from student opinion polls to rate universities by their political scene, sports facilities and nightlife.

Loughborough University is the top university for sports, while the universities of Northumbria and Newcastle, and the University of Liverpool, are judged to have the best nightlife, according to a poll of almost 10,000 students by market research firm YouthSight.

The School for Oriental and African Studies, University of London, ranks the highest for having the strongest political scene.

Students at the University of Oxford are the most happy, based on scores from the 2011 National Student Survey - though the ancient university was ranked equal in this respect with Neath Port Talbot College and Ruskin College, an adult education college in Oxford.

Graduates from the London School of Economics had the highest average starting salary, beginning on £28,968, the site says.

Second was Imperial College London (£28,831) followed by the medical school St George's, University of London (£,015) and University College London (£25,020).

Graduates from University of Cambridge were in sixth place on £24,926 ahead of eighth-placed University of Oxford (£24,773).

The site was launched at Westminster College by David Willetts, the universities and science minister and Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students.

"Choosing the right course and the right university is an important, and often daunting, decision," said Mr Willetts.

"I want prospective students to have all relevant information at their disposal."

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "It's worrying how many people are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives without proper guidance or advice.

"That's why we've launched Which? University so that people have free access to impartial information and can more easily choose the right course and university for them."

Universities are due to publish their own information about courses at the end of the month when the Key Information Sets are launched.

Other existing comparison sites include bestcourse4me.com, established by the educational philanthropist Steve Edwards.

The site is available at www.which.co.uk/university.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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