This Cork start-up is using AI to match students with college courses

Choosing your college course is an important but often challenging decision. To help, Cork-based start-up Yooni is tapping into AI and analytics.

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Yooni was launched by Nathan Mayes and Darragh Lucey earlier this year. It’s supported by Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme and the Ignite programme for graduate innovation at University College Cork (UCC), where Mayes and Lucey both graduated in electrical and electronic engineering.

The pair were travelling in Cambodia when they read an article about the growing number of students dropping out of college. When they returned home, they decided to start a business that could help. The duo founded software platform Yooni, which has been working with UCC and Cork Institute of Technology and is now gearing up to go national.

The platform uses “bespoke assessment technology” that analyses a student’s grades, personality and interests. The student then receives tailored recommendations for college courses.

It can also help students research all level-eight courses available in Ireland, complete a practice CAO form and link in with guidance counsellors. So far, it has been used by Leaving Cert students in more than 100 schools.

The start-up has also created a series of ‘Carpool College Courses’ videos, in which Lucey chats to past students from various courses.

Lucey said that Yooni offers unique help for students because it uses anonymised past-graduate data to inform recommendations.

“Using artificial intelligence and data analytics, we can accurately return a list of suitable courses and also serve to solidify confidence in their current choices with ongoing access to adequate guidance.”

According to the Higher Education Authority, only 75pc of students complete a course. With Yooni, Lucey and Mayes want to ensure that students don’t drop out because they’ve picked the wrong thing to study.

“We developed Yooni from the ground up, in collaboration with guidance counsellors and other experts in both education and technology fields, to bridge the void between the traditional guidance system and modern career-guidance technology,” Mayes explained.

“Yooni uses smart technology to help alleviate the stress students face navigating the path of course selection.”

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