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Student Course Information Tool - Self Certification

This is a new, time-limited, tool to support approximately 5,500 overseas students to find an alternative sponsor and place to study if the institution they were studying at has had its licence to sponsor international students revoked.

Each affected student will be issued a curtailment letter and have 60 days from receipt to find and enrol on an alternative course; otherwise they will need to leave the country.

The letter details a number of options and sources of information and support available to the affected students.

One of the options is to use this Student Course Information Tool to identify available courses, which they can separately apply for. Access to the tool is via a unique ‘student key’ provided in their letter.

The tool has been developed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

It is designed to provide a simple and quick way for the affected students to identify available courses and find further information on the institutions and the courses on offer.

The tool is an online, read-only register, and re-uses information already held by HEFCE, which will be refreshed and updated regularly. Students do not need to input any personal information to use the tool and no personal information is saved.

It is currently anticipated that the tool will not be required beyond February 2014, as all affected students will have by then found alternative courses or left the country.

Department / Agency:
BIS / Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

Date of Assessment:

Assessment stage:
Beta - Voluntary

Result of Assessment:

Lead Assessor:
A. Graham

Service Manager:
A. Bowman

Digital Leader:
T. Knighton

Assessment Report

The service assessment was completed on 19th November and the assessors considered the tool against the standard within the context that:

  • It was a rapid development to ensure support was available for the affected students in-line with the issuing of the curtailment letters;
  • It is a limited transactional service; and
  • It currently has a finite life and is unlikely to be required beyond February 2014.

On this basis the assessment panel were content that the tool sufficiently meets the service standard, subject to a number of actions being completed and further recommendations, should the service continue beyond February 2014.

Actions to be completed now:

  • Continue to work with security advisers.
  • Accessibility checks should be completed. At a minimum the tool should be run through the W3C accessibility checker and any deficiencies made compliant. It would also be advisable to check basic parts such as tab order with a screen reader, to ensure no users are disadvantaged.
  • HEFCE should work with UKVI and establish Google Analytics data and user feedback via the UKVI helpline in order to monitor use of the tool and user satisfaction. If take-up is very limited then it should be reviewed as a matter of urgency and remedial action taken.
  • Given the shared responsibilities for the tool, the Service Manager should seek assurance from both the HEFCE and UKVI SIRO and ensure there is joint accountability for any risks.

Recommendations for further iterations of the service:

  • An understanding of users was evident but future iterations of the service must include direct user research with students to ensure user needs are fully met.
  • The terminology used is reviewed and amended as appropriate based on user feedback, e.g. consider using "Filter:" instead of "Search".
  • Similarly the value of telling users how many places are available should be investigated and whether a last updated date should be displayed and whether the student key is needed.
  • There should be clear ownership of any future versions of the tool, with clear channels and responsibilities to manage and respond to user feedback and insight.
  • A review of the success of this tool should be undertaken and used to influence any future service. The design of which must be designed and implemented as a more "digital first" solution based on user needs.
  • An end to end service offering in the future should seek to address the entire user need rather than just the identification of available courses.

Digital by Default Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 Yes
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 N/A 8 No
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 N/A 12 N/A
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 No 16 Yes
17 Yes 18 Yes
19 No 20 No
21 Yes 22 N/A
23 N/A 24 N/A
25 Yes 26 N/A
Details of criteria that are not applicable to this service
7. Given the limited lifespan of the service this criteria was felt to be unnecessary.
8. Whilst a prototype was developed it was not fully tested with real users.
11. The service is to address an immediate and specific issue and is a new service – not replacing an existing one.
12. No non-digital steps were identified.
15. Whilst HEFCE have confirmed they are happy to release the code they do not believe there is value in doing so due to the limited nature of the service.
19., 20. Currently there are no plans to continue the service beyond February 2014.
22.-24. This is a simple “two step” service with a limited audience therefore measuring completion rates, costs per transaction and digital take up are not considered necessary.
26. This is not considered applicable for the size and lifespan of the service.