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Free online courses from UCAS to help students, parents, and teachers make big decisions

UCAS has launched a series of innovative online courses to help today’s students, and the people who advise them, navigate the tricky business of deciding what to do when they leave secondary education.

Young people have a greater range of options than ever before when considering their next steps after school or college, and most rely on busy teachers or parents and carers for advice and guidance.

To help teaching staff and advisers explore university, college, work, apprenticeships, and other choices, and to advise their students about contemporary choices, UCAS is running a pair of free online courses: one for teachers and advisers, followed by an accompanying course for their students.

The courses are delivered through FutureLearn. The first, Smart Advice: Broadening Your Students’ Horizons gives teachers and advisers strategies and practical advice for supporting their students’ research and decision-making, as they approach their transition from full-time secondary education. Insight into the changing career landscape is provided, alongside information about higher education, apprenticeships, taking a gap year, and going into work. The course includes videos, and articles, and gives an opportunity to discuss questions and queries online with specialists – including experienced careers advisers, and university and college admissions staff.

The second, Smart Choices: Broadening Your Horizons, is designed to help students understand the options available to them after school, how to research these, and how to make the right choices.

The advisers’ course runs for two weeks from 23 October, and takes only two to three hours each week. The students’ course begins on 6 November. The timing of the courses enables teachers and advisers to refresh their knowledge, and become familiar with the resources and approach, before the student course starts.

Over 5,200 advisers took part in this course in 2016. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive:

‘I now feel better equipped to be the first point of contact to provide information, advice, and guidance.’

‘I was really impressed with this short but thorough and focused course… I was grateful that I didn’t have to commit a great amount of time to the course to benefit from it!’

Students also found the course valuable:

‘I vaguely knew what I wanted to do, but the course has made me more certain and I’ve taken steps to actually make things happen… I have realised there’s more to think about than just picking a course.’

This year’s courses provide updated and extended content, as well as resources to help students research their options.

Rebecca Bale, Careers Information and Advice Lead at UCAS, said: ‘We know how time-pressed teachers are, and how hard it can be for students to choose their next step when there’s so much riding on it. That’s why we’ve come up with these courses. They can find all the information in one place, and take the short course from the comfort of their home or school, at their own pace.

‘These free online courses, or massive open online courses (MOOCs), are a new venture for UCAS, and we’ve had great feedback and response from teachers and their students. For UCAS, they enable us to engage in an ever improving dialogue with our customers, so that we understand them better and can support them more fully in providing information and advice to young people about all their options.’

Registration for these courses is open now at Smart Advice: Broadening Your Students’ Horizons and Smart Choices: Broadening Your Horizons.

Notes to Editors

About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a charity and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 applicants each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at around 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

For more information, please contact or call the External Relations Team on 01242 545 469.

About FutureLearn

Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With over 6.5 million people from over 200 countries across the globe – a community that is continuously growing – it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as the European Space Agency, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.

For further press information, please contact: Niamh O’Grady, Head of Communications, FutureLearn, or Rachel MacPherson, PR Executive, on

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