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e-Learning programme encourages students to balance books

Epic Group plc has been selected by UNIAID to produce an e-learning program to encourage higher education students to balance their financial books, which it hopes will allow them to concentrate on the academic ones.

UNIAID is a registered charity, established in 2001, set up to help young people overcome financial hurdles into and through higher education. Their e-learning programme, ‘All About U’, is an online game for 16 – 19 year olds that employs a simulation-based approach. The game provides plenty of opportunities for fun and interactivity as prospective students make decisions on subjects such as where to study, what to study and how much to spend on items like books, clothes and entertainment. What makes the game realistic, say Epic, is that, as in the real world, some of the decisions taken by the user will be irrevocable and have dire consequences.

"People learn by doing, so how better to teach a potential student about debt than by letting them experience it?," said John Harris Epic's Director of Education. "Working with UNIAID on All About U is a great opportunity to develop an innovative approach to tackling real issues."

All About U is backed by HSBC Bank plc and the Learning & Skills Council. Damien Forrest, of the UCL Psychology Department, who accepted the invitation from Epic to be the academic advisor for the program said, "All About U has much to offer. It aims to provide a personal and interactive micro-world, with opportunities to explore and face some of the real world difficulties likely to arise in the future. It will help arm teenagers with the confidence, experience and knowledge required to succeed at university, without the burden of financial instability."

Alistair Lomax, Executive Director and Project Leader for UNIAID added, "This is an important project for us. UNIAID is a new organisation addressing new (still emerging) social problems. We've thrown many challenges at Epic: punishing schedules, ambitious briefs, tight budgets. It's been a relief working with the team at Epic. Nothing has phased them. The final proof will be in the response of the user. Although there is much work left, we can hardly wait to share the magic of Epic's formula." All About U will launch in Spring 2005.

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