The acquisition of an app, MO University Assistant, will see UCAS relaunch this “university PA in your pocket” platform from January. It will seek to offer this product directly to international students but also to the global education agency network which helps advise international students.
MO started life three years ago as a scholarship search platform and developed to provide personalised student support, matching students to postgraduate courses and enabling multiple direct applications to a university.
The app, which offers a complete profile of UK universities and colleges, also provides accommodation and employment options via partners. It is available in 15 languages.
MO will be run as a wholly-owned UCAS commercial enterprise, and Aaron Powell, chief digital and data officer at UCAS, will act as MD for MO within the UCAS Group.
“Applying to university is the one of the most important decisions anyone will ever make,” he commented. “We know students make multiple applications to different institutions in different countries.
“We believe a single postgraduate gateway, under the trusted UCAS brand dedicated to UK higher education, will enhance the UK’s competitiveness, and provide students and agents with unrivalled support throughout their application journey.”
Speaking with The PIE News, Powell acknowledged the important role that education advisers play in the HE market, at both UG and PG level. He said UCAS wants to work “with agents” to make the journey into UK postgraduate education “a success for everyone involved”.
“We know face-to-face interaction with advisers and counsellors can be important for students,” he added, “For agents, the vision for MO is simple; spend more time recruiting and less time chasing paper.”
Notably, agents will be able to create a MO account and receive a unique recruiter app link, so students they recruit are automatically attributed for commissions.
The app was developed by entrepreneur Myles Jardine, who also established Grant Fairy, a previous finalist in The PIEoneer Awards.
“If we are to deliver on the UK’s strategy to increase international student numbers, business as usual is not going to cut it”
“With their expertise and connections across higher education, we believe MO can quickly establish itself as a one-stop, end-to-end, marketing, recruitment, and application platform that will fully support students in their journey to UK higher education.”
UCAS sees its mission as helping grow the overall market share for UK HE.
Nodding to the government’s international education strategy and target to host 600,000 international students, Mark Felix, commercial director at MoneySupermarket Group, who sits on the UCAS Board, commented, “If we are to deliver on the UK’s international education strategy to increase international students from around 450,000 to more than 600,000, business as usual is not going to cut it.
“MO will see UCAS play a new and much greater role in attracting and supporting postgraduate students from around the world, by creating a single, easy to use and welcoming front door to UK higher education.”
The associated job and accommodation information is supplied by partner sites that plug into the app.
Powell stressed that he sees MO as a game changer because of the ease of applying for multiple institutions centrally. “The technology allows for a streamlined application process, eliminating the need to complete multiple applications across different forms, or spend hours searching for postgraduate courses information,” he said.
UCAS, which is an independent charity, manages applications from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses. Of those, 70,000 are international students (EU and non-EU) using its services to apply for undergraduate study each year. It processes limited international postgraduate applications at present.