A report on the use of information and communications technologies among prospective university students was commissioned by JISC from Ipsos MORI. The findings have just been published [pdf].
I was interested in the popularity of social networking sites. 501 people responded to an online survey. 65% used social networking sites regularly, 23% used them sometimes.
The most popular two sites were Facebook and MySpace. Most of the participants had a Facebook profile, and many had recently 'graduated' from a MySpace profile to Facebook. Some saw Facebook as a more mature site - and, by the nature of its layout and features, more appropriate for university applicants. MySpace was seen as a means of expression, rather than networking and communication. it was seen as more spontaneous, and, whether a positive or negative attribute, less 'mature'. [Student expectations study, July 2007. PDF]
Found via Andy Powell, who concludes his discussion in this way:
Furthermore, I always somewhat sceptical about these kinds of surveys in terms of how questions are phrased and, therefore, what they are really telling us. That said, the report is definitely interesting and worth a read. [eFoundations: Student expectations of ICT at university]
Incidentally, I was interested to read this at the end of the methodology section:
As JISC has engaged Ipsos MORI to undertake an objective programme of research, it is important to protect their interests by ensuring that it is accurately reflected in any press release or publication of the findings. As part of our standard terms and conditions, the publication of the findings of this report is therefore subject to the advance approval of Ipsos MORI. Such approval will only be refused on the grounds of inaccuracy or misrepresentation. [Student expectations study, July 2007. PDF]
It is slightly surprising that JISC would agree to such a statement in a report they commissioned.
(I am not sure if the 'their' in the first sentence is supposed to refer to JISC or Ipsos MORI ...)