Would-be students, even those who are unsure what subject to study, can build their own personalised prospectus through a unique online web service launched by Kingston University.
An easy to use tool on the University's website (www.kingston.ac.uk/build) allows prospective undergraduates to create a bespoke handbook that includes information on the specific courses, campuses and support services that are most relevant to them.
The University's Web Manager Matthew Osbourn said that although other UK universities produced personalised prospectuses, Kingston's system was one of the most sophisticated. "Each document is unique, based on where the individual student is located and their personal choice of up to eight courses. Information on subjects such as the local area, finance, teaching departments and campuses will then vary depending upon the individual combination of courses students choose," Mr Osbourn said. He explained that this meant that potential students received only the information they needed. "It's taking personalisation to a new level," he said.
Since the personalised prospectus scheme was launched in mid March, more than 8,500 people have requested a made-to-order prospectus, around a fifth of whom live overseas.
David Wood, Kingston's Design and Publications Manager, said the aim of the personalised prospectus was to provide a better service to students. "The rationale behind it is important – that you get just what you need and it's printed and posted out within 48 hours. It can also be updated every day so it is never out of date," he explained. "There is no storage and no waste with the personalised prospectus – you don't have any left at the end of the year – so it's more sustainable as well."
Mr Osbourn added that as well as helping prospective students make a more informed decision about their choice of course, personalised prospectuses would enable the university to target its courses more effectively. "We can build up a detailed picture of which courses and combinations of courses are being chosen, and which nationalities are ordering each course," he said. "Not only will this enable us to carry out more specific and relevant marketing, it will help ensure we offer courses and combinations that meet the needs of our students."
The scheme currently only applies to undergraduate courses but the University could eventually extend it to include postgraduate courses. "We are also looking at whether to develop the process further to include information on facilities available for people with disabilities and are considering translating some sections of our international versions into other languages to help inform the parents of prospective international students," said Mr Osbourn.