I have a "university/college" field in a web form. In the interests of data normalisation I want users to select their university from a dropdown. However, if their uni is not there they should enter it manually.
One option I've tried is a regular text box in which they start entering their uni and options appear below for them to click, which fills in the full name. The main problem here is many people enter things that are on the list but don't click the dropdown (for example they type "bristol" but the correct option is "Bristol University").
Currently I'm looking at using select2 so that they can easily type to filter, then have a checkbox below saying "my uni does not appear" that shows a text field so they can enter it freeform. This is certainly better when their uni does appear, but if it's not there it seems pretty awkward with many extra steps - first they type in the select field, then they close it, then tick a box, then type again.
My final alternative would be to make the field optional, so if their uni is not there they can leave it blank. But this could mean losing a lot of data.
What is the best way to present this workflow? Or is there a better workflow?