A website which allows students to compare Australia's 39 public universities on everything from student/staff ratios, to graduate employment outcomes and even car parking spaces on campus will go live this morning.
Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans, who will launch the My University website at Narrabundah College today, said it would ''help drive universities to lift performance and quality''.
But just like the controversial My School website has attracted sustained criticism for allowing narrow comparisons of school literacy and numeracy results since it began operating three years ago, My University is likely to get a lukewarm reception from some universities.
Several senior educators have privately condemned the website as part of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's ''obsession with league tables''.
While My School concentrates on literacy and numeracy results, lists student attendance rates, assigns a socio-economic value to each school community, and calculates per student funding, My University is broader in scope.
It details each institution's fees, courses, course cut-offs, lecturer qualifications, student satisfaction rates, graduate employment outcomes, enrolment numbers, and student/staff ratios. It also encourages students to directly compare institutions locally and across the country across fields of study.
In addition, students will be able to look beyond the 39 public universities to private tertiary providers to see what courses are on offer including a fee schedule. A section on postgraduate study will include student numbers in masters and doctorate fields as well as scholarships and Commonwealth support.
The website, which cost $1.5 million to create, is expected to receive millions of hits from domestic and international students.
It also provides information on each university's services and amenities - from childcare places, car parking, bus routes, supermarkets, banks and pubs on campus to student welfare services, clubs and societies.
Student accommodation places and charges are included, as is the number of computers on campus, total server space and even the cost per page of library photocopying.
A prospective student would be able to find out whether their preferred institution had a pool or student radio station as well as the breakdown of alumni across gender and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lines.
Announced by the then education minister Julia Gillard in January 2010, the My University website was supposed to be functioning from January - in time for last minute enrolments for the 2012 academic year.
A spokesman for Senator Evans attributed the delay to last-minute additions to course information and the process of allowing universities to cross-check the information for accuracy. Senator Evans said yesterday ''making the decision to enrol at university is a huge life decision for young Australians. My University will help ensure that they have all the relevant information to make an informed decision about what's best for them.''
He noted students deserved better information about employment prospects so they could link their choices to areas of employment growth. ''My University will allow students to make a decision with full knowledge of courses, services and other students' experiences.''
Some universities have cautioned students not to make their choice of university solely on information provided by the website.