Profile of perfect student

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UNIVERSITIES ARE preparing to answer the sixth former's perennial question about what really makes a good student by producing Internet lists of what they seek in a prospective undergraduate. The scheme, which they intend to launch in November, is meant to cut drop-out rates, estimated to run at about 20 per cent.

Universities already post course details and basic entry requirements on the Internet. But the new Internet sites are aimed at making students realise that many academics also take into account applicants' outside interests, and their work and travel experience, when deciding whether to offer places.

Under the project, being pioneered by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), sixth formers will be told whether experience of work, voluntary activities or extra studies would increase their chances.

Initially, 12 universities will post the information - in effect a profile of the ideal candidate - on the Internet. Admissions officials hope all courses will eventually be covered by the profiles, to help to produce a better match between students and places.

The information will be particularly useful to students hoping for an edge when they apply for popular courses such as law, medicine or English. But it would also be a quick reference for the thousands who have to make swift decisions during the annual clearing process.