University Tips Blog
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by Tian Barratt

Outreach Manager at the University of Portsmouth

posted on 16 Jul '20

What to expect from a university virtual summer school: Lockdown outreach for pre-16 students

Universities have done a fantastic job at rapidly developing their digital offer to schools and colleges. There has been a wealth of creative and high quality online resources for students to access to support their university decision making. The offer of digital outreach has been a little sparse for younger audiences though, who have also been facing some big decisions and uncertainty during lockdown.

The Recruitment and Outreach team at the University of Portsmouth have produced a set of resources for use by students, their teachers or their parents - in years 5 to 11. They have also just delivered a week-long Virtual Summer School, for year 10 students.

What does a university virtual summer school for year 10 students involve?

Initially disappointed not to be able to run our summer residential event on campus this year, at the University of Portsmouth we quickly saw the opportunity to provide a virtual experience of university to students from the comfort of their own home, or from the classroom for those returning to school. 300 year 10 students from across the country took part.

Our Virtual Summer School hub is full of interactive content and lots of opportunities for students to learn more about university life - directly from our students and staff:

- Ask the Expert webinars - live webinars hosted by our undergraduate students and our student finance team. Unpicking the myths surrounding the costs of university and exploring the student journey to higher education.

- Subject taster sessions - an introduction to some of the subjects available at university, with online and offline activities for students to take part in.

- Virtual tours - take a tour of the city and the university campus, including halls of residence, the library and some teaching facilities.

- Graduation - a live graduation experience, including the all-important mortar board throw!

- Digital Scrapbook- Students were able to download an interactive scrapbook to keep a personal record of their summer school experience, which was full of more activities linked to the content on the virtual hub.

New content was released throughout the week, with challenges set and opportunities for students to submit examples of their work from the taster sessions and their scrapbook. The Virtual Summer School hub, with recordings of the live webinars, will be open until 1st August for students to access.

"Whats next" Banner image

What does the future look like for university access and outreach?

We all hope to get back to face-to-face events as we move into the new academic year. It’s clear though that university access and outreach teams will need to continue to take an innovative and blended approach to working with schools. Any movement back to face-to-face delivery will be in line with guidelines and restrictions.

The most important thing for now, is working with schools to plan future activity together. The team here at the University of Portsmouth welcome feedback and suggestions from school staff on how we can work with you and your students as we enter the new term - you can contact us through UniTasterDays.

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