Oxford University has poorest online presence in UK education, new research reveals

Oxford University has the poorest online presence in the UK, according to new research carried out by user experience agency Webcredible.

The prestigious university scored lowest in the in-depth analysis of ten UK universities, which were evaluated against best practice guidelines to gauge how easy it is for prospective students to find the resources they need on official websites. Cardiff University topped the table with the best online experience.

Ten universities were selected to provide a varied sample of old and new, single and multi-campus institutions. The sample also provided a diverse range in terms of academic league-table position and geographic spread. The best practice guidelines used to rate the universities included course finding and tuition fee information, social media presence, details of accommodation availability and costs, the website’s mobile and tablet experience and fresher’s week advice.

Oxford scored just 18 out of 50 for its online presence, trailing behind its neighbour Oxford Brookes, which came seventh with a score of 27. Cambridge University scored 29, coming fifth in the rankings, while Durham came third with 31 out of 50.

Cardiff University scored 33 out of 50 due in part to its exemplary homepage, which was the only one in the study to receive full marks. It delivered clear starting points targeted at students’ needs, including straightforward course-finding information and compelling material specifically for new students.

Oxford’s website scored between zero and one points on six of the ten guidelines used to rate each university – notably, its course-finder was very difficult to locate, resulting in a lack of key functionality for prospective students.

“Although Oxford is one of the most distinguished and successful universities in the world, it seems to have neglected its online presence,” said Trenton Moss, Founder and Commercial Director at Webcredible. “{{Universities are operating in an increasingly competitive market so they need to think like businesses}}; an engaging, informative online presence is essential in order to attract prospective students, particularly high-paying international candidates.”

Webcredible carried out the study in order to evaluate whether universities are making the most of digital channels to attract prospective students and help them to choose between universities.

“Researching and applying to different universities can be complex and, at times, emotional,” added Moss. “For this reason, it is vital that universities make it as easy as possible for prospective students to get the information they need throughout this process to make the right decision. This can also be achieved by uniting both digital and offline channels, creating a joined-up experience for students to interact with.”

The Webcredible Education Report is available for free download here: www.webcredible.com/edu-report

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