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Discovery College

BridgeU replaced Naviance at Discovery College, as counsellors searched for a system that would suit their international students.

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At a glance

  • BridgeU replaced Naviance at Discovery College, as counsellors searched for a system that would suit their international students
  • Transferring data and getting set up on BridgeU was a smooth process with the help of the school’s IT department and the team at BridgeU
  • Students loved BridgeU from the start, responding to the lively interface and interesting matches
  • Students want to do more investigation than ever before, and to fully understand their financial options, so they take full advantage of the research that BridgeU enables 
  • BridgeU’s 24/7 local support saves stress and enables speedy problem-solving
  • Discovery College’s counsellors feel like they are in a true partnership with BridgeU
Our students are incredibly international, so BridgeU was the solution that best met our needs.
Susie Blomfield, Higher Education Counsellor, Discovery College

Deciding on BridgeU

Discovery College was founded in 2008 by the English Schools Foundation to serve the needs of Hong Kong’s local and expatriate communities. Now, the school’s 1,450 students attend classes in campus buildings by Discovery Bay, and study the IB from years 1 to 13.

In 2016, Discovery College decided to adopt BridgeU as its university and careers guidance platform. Having previously used Naviance, counsellors wanted to provide students with a system that had been designed for international schools from the outset. “Our students are incredibly international, so BridgeU was the solution that best met our needs,” recalls Susie Blomfield, a Higher Education Counsellor at Discovery College.

The fact that the kids could get these matches was terribly exciting. Getting them to start using it was very easy!

Discovery College’s staff represent over 20 nationalities, while there are over 50 nationalities represented among the student body. “We have Canadians, Europeans, Americans, Brits, Hong Kong-ers, Mainland Chinese,” Blomfield says. “It is probably one of the most culturally diverse schools in Hong Kong, and definitely within the English Schools Foundation.”

Drawn to the fact that BridgeU was built for international students and schools, Blomfield and her colleagues made the “very conscious” choice to stop using Naviance. “What really attracted me about BridgeU, to begin with, was that the kids interacted with it immediately,” she says, citing the “lively interface” and user-friendliness of BridgeU straight out of the box.

“Our data was very smoothly passed over” from Naviance to BridgeU, Blomfield says. “It seemed like a huge task, but we had a lot of support from BridgeU and a great IT guru here [at the school], who liaised very, very closely with the team at BridgeU” to deliver a seamless transition. Discovery College’s students were excited by BridgeU from the start. “The fact that the kids could actually research and get these matches was terribly exciting,” Blomfield recalls. “So getting them to start using it was very easy!”

Higher education is changing

Blomfield and her colleague Marisa Jackson, also a Higher Education Counsellor at Discovery College, have 25 years’ experience of advising on college admissions between them. “It’s very hard to keep up!” Blomfield laughs. “It’s very exciting, but you never know it all. Ever!” Naturally, they’ve seen the nature of international university guidance change a great deal over that time.

There’s a lot more data out there than ever before, both Jackson and Blomfield say, and the higher education industry is becoming more commercial and business-oriented. Jackson points out the wide spectrum of how universities operate as businesses: “From Germany and New Zealand not charging for university, all the way to countries that charge $60,000 or more to go to school, finance has become a hugely, hugely important issue for students” – and it’s put them in the driving seat.

Students are shopping around and looking at what’s right for them financially, as well as everything else.

Discovery College’s pupils think a lot more about the financial implications of higher education than before, which means giving them tools like BridgeU to enable more research is helpful. “Students are a lot more savvy,” says Blomfield. “They’re shopping around, and quite rightly so. They’re looking at what’s right for them financially, as well as everything else.”

Trends and support

Discovery College’s students love the strategy advisor and matching on BridgeU, which has supported applications to a broad range of countries. Jackson reels off the statistics of student destinations: “So the UK was about 37% last year, the US was 14%, Hong Kong was 16%, Australia was almost 10% and Canada was about 9%.” Students also went to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, and signed up for military service. BridgeU’s international matching pushes students to consider destinations they might not have before, which the school appreciates. “It’s really nice to see Europe coming up as a destination for our students, and to work with countries that we’ve never worked with before,” says Blomfield.

What’s more, the support provided by BridgeU has been crucial to Discovery College successfully adopting the platform. “We’ve given them tonnes of feedback, which they’ve received with open arms,” says Jackson. “And they’ve acted on it!” Blomfield adds.

BridgeU’s support is instant, and for that it’s worth its weight in gold

“We really enjoy the freshness, the newness, the internationalness of it all,” Jackson goes on. “We’re engaged in open dialogue with BridgeU and a lot of stuff we have said has actually come around and been implemented into the system. That’s really great to see.”

The fact that BridgeU has a team dedicated to working with partners across the Asia Pacific region has also been very helpful for Discovery College. The Hong Kong office “makes us feel very reassured, knowing that if there is a real problem, you don’t have to email and wait 48 hours for a response,” says Blomfield. “The support is instant, and for that I think it’s worth its weight in gold.”

“If we get these tools we want them to help us, not cause another obstacle,” Jackson adds. “Using these programs,” she says, the question is: “how is it helping us to support the students better?… I really like the openness to change at BridgeU. We asked our students for feedback, Australia came up, and as a result, Australia was added onto the BridgeU. It feels like a partnership.”

I really like the openness to change at BridgeU... It feels like a partnership.
Marisa Jackson, Higher Education Counsellor, Discovery College

The results of using BridgeU

BridgeU is student-friendly and gets Discovery College pupils involved from an early stage
BridgeU has proven its flexibility and willingness to meet the needs of students and counsellors
Students are applying to new countries and broadening their horizons

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