Chris Worsey, co-founder of Coursematch, speaks to PUBLIC about why he started Coursematch and how joining the GovStart 2019 cohort will help them on their journey to transform the university application process.
Why did you start Coursematch – what problem are you trying to solve?
Coursematch started because we found that the journey to university needs reinvention. Discovering, communicating, applying, and choosing a university has not changed in decades. Now is the time to embrace the vast advancements in technology and change student mindset to deliver a personalised, seamless service.
Tell us about your journey so far…
Coursematch was born in January 2017 on the day I met Joe Perkins. We shared the core value that education transforms lives and access to education in turn needed to be transformed. Our research showed that prospective students only looked at seven different courses before making a critical decision about their course. Given there are 36,000 higher education courses in the UK alone, we could clearly see that students needed inspiration to see the full view of their opportunity.
Just a few months later we launched the Coursematch App. We provide a Course Search for prospective students with an experience that grows with them using machine learning matching to recommend and personalise courses. The swipe-based app helps students quickly assess their options and refine their shortlist. Since launch, over 1.5 million course cards have been viewed, with the average user discovering over one hundred each on their journey. Powered by user data, since launch we have developed the app with 45 updates to constantly be tuned to the student experience.
“Given there are 36,000 higher education courses in the UK alone, we could clearly see that students needed inspiration to see the full view of their opportunity.”
The next step on our journey was to bring universities and students together. We launched our Connect platform in June 2019 to deliver just that. Universities can send tailored push communications and live chat to students with sophisticated targeting that builds a meaningful connection for all. The reception from universities has been overwhelming, with ten universities joining our paid pilot in the last few weeks. Our pioneers will join us for six months with forty hours of feedback each to help us refine the self-service analytics and marketing platform. We’ll be taking our next batch of universities on in October 2019.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a revolutionary direct application system. Coursematch challenges the 50 year old legacy status quo with an innovative and disruptive platform that fully manages students from enquiry to enrolment. Our higher education advisory group of 25 University Directors are helping us craft our revolution.
What do you hope to get out of the GovStart 2019 programme?
GovStart is proving really valuable to Coursematch. The programme is certain to amplify and accelerate our success. The GovStart influence is helping us reach top level meetings with key influencers, policy makers, and government ministers. The support helps us tell the Coursematch story and there is authentic political buy in to our project, especially around fair, free and full access to higher education.
What are the next steps for Coursematch?
Our next steps forward mirror the steps we have taken to this point – listen to our customers, clients, and partners to refine our current services and revolutionise with our emerging ones. Building a new full UK undergraduate admissions platform to challenge the current process has never been done before. So, we are growing our team, we are growing our client base, and we are growing our ambition to deliver a difference in access to education.
“We are growing our team, we are growing our client base, and we are growing our ambition to deliver a difference in access to education.”
How has the university admissions process changed since you applied?
I think the problem is that the process has not changed that much since I applied. The only change you can feel is that the price paid by students to window shop higher education has risen consistently, now £24. For some, that can be the difference between considering the opportunity of higher education and missing out entirely. For the price, paper forms have moved to web forms without rethinking the art of putting the student at the centre. In the era of big data, machine learning, and mobile first products, the admissions process looks antiquated and out of touch with the modern student. The world is changing fast and we think it’s time university admissions changed with it.
Looking forward – what do you see for the future of EdTech?
In the past 12 months there has been a renewed interest in EdTech worldwide. Investors and entrepreneurs have awoken to the huge opportunity to use technology to streamline outdated systems, out-innovate the status quo and build innovative student focused services. You only need to look at start-ups such as Lambda School, Unibuddy and Outschool to see how dynamic the sector is and how interesting the space is to investors. We’re driving forwards so Coursematch can be part of this moment in history of high impact, innovative EdTech start-ups.
To take a closer look at PUBLIC’s GovStart 2019 cohort – click here.