Choosing what university to go to is a huge part of life for those of us lucky enough to do so. For many students on the Isle of Man it’s their first time living off the Island and away from family. Many people end up living in the city where they studied after they graduate or meeting the person they love during their degree.
The decision of which university to go to is always difficult but for current Year 12s it’s been made even harder thanks to the restrictions put in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chess Warren was reminded of this whilst listening to the government’s young person briefing and came up with a plan. Working alongside fellow University of York Law student, Caitlin Allinson, they created the Manx Uni-Verse Facebook group.
Chess said: “I saw that (briefing) and I thought, we’re a community here on the island, why don’t we put something together to connect current undergrads with Manx Year 12s?”
The group has asked current university students from the Isle of Man to put their course and university into a form which is translated on to a spreadsheet that can easily be used by Year 12s, parents and teachers to find and contact students studying on a course or at a university of interest to them. The spreadsheet already has representation from over half of the universities in the UK.
Chess spoke about the importance of community for a project like this saying: “I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of people who have got in contact with me and said ‘is there any more stuff I can do, can I help you in this way, can I help you in that way?’”
As well as the spreadsheet, the group has also appointed designated ambassadors for each of the secondary schools on the island to ensure there is a point of contact and a familiar face for students who may be nervous to get in touch with someone.
Talking about the need for the group, Caitlin said: “When I was in Year 12, I relied on open days and getting a true feel for the atmosphere of a university when picking my choices.
“Current Year 12s having to pick their new home for the next three years, likely without having visited, is a massive challenge.”
Aware that not everyone will be open to messaging strangers, the Uni-Verse group is also creating posts to ensure everyone can get information. Chess spoke about interviews with a student studying with the Royal Navy and a disabled student’s experiences with moving away.
She also said: “We’ve got stuff coming up about performing arts routes and applying to a music conservatoire, we’re basically using the page as a tool to signpost students to where they can find information in the community around them.”
For more information on the project visit the ‘Manx Uni-Verse’ Facebook page. The group is private so you’ll need to answer a few questions to gain access. Chess and Caitlin are asking any current university students who feel comfortable to add their details to the spreadsheet by filling out a form available in the Facebook group.