When searching for an institution, information such as cost, admissions or graduation rates will be made available in the featured snipped directly on Search.
“Information is scattered across the internet, and it’s not always clear what factors to consider and which pieces of information will be most useful for your decision,” Google product manager Jacob Schonberg explained in a blog.
“We’re pleased that Google recognises the importance of data in aiding students’ research”
To design the feature, Google worked with education researchers, non-profit organisations and high-school counsellors to understand what information students need when researching their education options, he explained.
The new function also provides facilitated access to information about average cost after student aid is applied, and to statistics such as enrolment and graduation rates or typical annual income 10 years after enrolment.
The feature relies on public information form the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which provides data on all US 4-year colleges.
Commenting on the potential and the impact for the international education industry, search engine marketing specialist at Hotcourses Group, Danielle Lapham, welcomed Google’s use of data to inform students’ research, but warned that data alone doesn’t tell the whole story.
“We’re pleased that Google recognises the importance of data in aiding students’ research and see this as a natural progression of their current Featured Snippets offerings,” she told The PIE News.
“While there may be an impact, I’m sure, it’s important that we continue to drive informed decisions for our students through rich data-sets, advice and student reviews that can paint a far more nuanced picture of university life than that which can be achieved through a Google search alone.”
Studyportals’ executive vice president of global engagement and research, Rahul Choudaha, also remarked that information is vital to support students’ decision making.
“We cannot underestimate the complexity of student decision-making process,” he told The PIE.
“At Studyportals…the goal is to enhance transparency of information and foster mobility of students by breaking down the complexity of the process through relevant information resources.
“Every additional piece of information that improves student journey and brings transparency to their search process is a welcome step forward for the field of international education.”