Image of a student preparing for a university virtual open day

 by Lydia Mansell
, posted On 11 Jun '20
 Regional Schools and Colleges Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Portsmouth

Making the Most of a University Virtual Open Day – a guide for your students

With Open Days cancelled this summer, we know you might be feeling unsure about how to explore your university and course choices. But, university virtual Open Days are here to save the day! So, grab your eighth (?) cuppa of the day and let’s delve into what virtual open days are all about and how you can prepare for them…

What is a university virtual open day?

1. A means of comparing your shortlisted universities

2. A way to view university facilities through videos, virtual tours of the accommodation and campus

3. An opportunity to attend subject taster lectures and communicate with staff and current students.

Nonetheless, universities know virtual open days will never fully replace the experience of walking around a campus and talking to staff and students in person. But they are an alternative to help you with your research and give you an idea of the all-important student experience.

It also takes away the personal and financial commitment of attending Open Days in person as these sometimes include early starts for travelling or the expense of overnight stays and transport costs!

How can you prepare for a university virtual open day?

Start booking onto the virtual open days! Universities will want to contact you about your course of interest following your visit and you may need to reserve a virtual seat on your subject taster lectures.

Make sure you have still done your research as well. UCAS, UniFrog and university webpages are great for researching module content, methods of assessment, sandwich year options and information about teaching facilities. Your research might prompt questions you want to ask on the day as well.

There will be plenty of information on UniTasterDays too for when universities are holding their virtual open days and any other subject events they’re advertising online as well.

What do you want to ask at a university virtual open day?

You don’t want to leave an open day with unanswered questions and virtual open days are no different. There will be staff and students on a Q&A platform throughout the day so it is best to prepare some questions in advance. Here’s a few to get you started:

Suggestions of virtual open day questions for staff:
How will you be assessed on the course?
What facilities are available and are they industry standard?
Can you do a placement year on your course?
What opportunities are there to study abroad and where can you go?
How do you prepare students for employment?

Suggestions of virtual open day questions for students:
How much contact time do you have on your course?
Do you have opportunities for practical learning?
How are the halls of accommodation?
How do you find the city?
What are transport links like?
Have you done a placement year and did the university support you to find it?

If you don’t have some of your questions answered, make sure you contact the university’s admissions or subject departments.

Top tips when attending the University Virtual Open Day

Before you start, do you have a strong WiFi connection - if not, is there anything you can do to speed it up for the event? Do you have a notebook and pen for jotting down answers to your prepared questions? As well as a quiet room and some snacks?

What is your event aim? For example maybe finding out:
Course details: compulsory modules, quality of teaching, assessment, sandwich years.
Practical facilities: simulated learning? Future employment opportunities?
Halls of residence: cost, room type, ensuite or shared facilities, location.
Student Union: societies, sports, volunteering.
Support services: academic, wellbeing, financial, careers and employability and disability support.

What did you think of your visit?

You want to feel confident that a university is well prepared for you while you’re studying but is simultaneously preparing you for your future. So, reflect on the communication you had, the facilities you have seen, the taster lectures you attended and the general feel you got from speaking to current students about their experiences.

The ultimate question is, could you see yourself living and studying at that university for 3/4 years of your life?

Good luck with your visits and we hope to welcome you onto our campus’ soon! Do check out the video below for more tips – when I spoke about univerity virtual open days on a UniTaster Tuesday event.

Teachers, careers colleagues and support staff: request your FREE UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

This brochure has been produced by in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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