Business Secretary, Vince Cable spoke to Strode College students this morning about a new university comparison website set up by the Government.
The website provides extensive information on over 31,000 university courses in the UK allowing candidates to compare various statistics about potential universities, including student satisfaction ratings.
Dr Cable, who attended Cambridge University, said that this website was in no way an apology for the recent tuition fee rise:
"We are not apologising for the system of pay put in place and we think it is a very good system that people from all backgrounds can benefit from.
"It is a misconception that students from rural areas like Somerset cannot afford to go to university in a City, the system of fees allows anyone from any background to study where they choose.
"The fact that this is a rural area should not deter any students from applying to any university in the country."
He added: "This website is particularly good because it gives the power to the students and takes it away from the universities.
"Before, universities could pick and choose their students out of the batch that had applied. Now, students can compare universities based on past-student feedback among other things and make an informed decision about where they want to study."
Strode College students were very positive about the Unistats website, enthusing about how easy it is to use.
A girl studying her A-Levels at Strode said she was comparing courses in Japanese Studies and was shocked to find her first choice had poor ratings and a choice lower on her list was very high:
"Oxford Brookes university only scored around 30% in student satisfaction out of a very low number of students, I was shocked as it was my first choice.
"A different university that I hadn't really considered came back with a 90% rating from pool of 125 students. I'll definitely take it all into consideration now."
Ruggero Barlaba, a 16-year-old student studying for his A-Levels said:
"I think the website is interesting and very helpful because it is so easy to use and the old system was quite taxing."
Strode College sees around 400 (83%) students through to Universities each year; 13% more than the National average.
James Staniforth, Strode College Principal said: "We haven't seen a drop in students applying to university, we tend to stay the same, beating the national average.
"However we do see more of our students going on gap-years and taking time out before university."
"The website seems excellent so far and I think that's because this is how students find their information these days.
"When I was applying for university it was a lot harder and quite a scary process. You were thrown in at the deep end and had to order large prospectuses and go through them by yourself.
"The website gives students a lot more information than a university prospectus would."
The Unistats website, unistats.direct.gov.uk, provides a Key Information Set (KIS) on UK university courses including graduate salaries and employment, tuition fees, financial support and student satisfaction ratings.
The data was collated after students were consulted about the information they find most useful when choosing a higher education course.