Image of a teacher looking at a calendar

 by Oliver Rossetti
, posted On 2 Dec '20
 Outreach Manager at the University of Leicester

A school and college guide to working with universities during the new normal – organising online and physical events

It is fair to say that the next year is likely to be turbulent and I imagine it can seem daunting when thinking about how to organise events to support the university guidance you provide and achieving your Gatsby Benchmarks. You’re certainly not alone and as universities and other higher education institutions, we are here to advise.

The new normal is here to stay for a little longer yet, so here are some tips for organising a university event.

The decision of an online or physical event?

This will largely be based on local restrictions and whether you have the space for social distancing. Weigh up the benefits of face-to-face delivery, could the talk simply be shown on a live screen and resources sent beforehand?

A careers fair is a great way to impart advice from organisations but how will you control literature being given out and ensure it is not being left around the school? Allowing students the opportunity to consider which university they would like to speak with beforehand could mitigate this and help you know the likely pinch points, so you can schedule time and ensure busier stands can maintain social distancing

Image of online tools and resources for a virtual event

Which online platform to use?

There is now an abundance of online platforms to choose from when running events. Examples include Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Adobe Connect, which all promote a different level of interactivity. Providers will likely have access to some of these platforms so you don’t necessarily have to use your own budget to facilitate access.

Do you have concerns about safeguarding?

Restrictions can normally be applied such as passwords or enabling the teacher themselves to admit students from a register. Don’t be afraid of requesting a university to adjust settings in order to meet your safeguarding policy and risk assessment.

Physical considerations

If face-to-face delivery is appropriate there are some factors to consider when ensuring it is COVID-secure:
• PPE guidance sent to all visitors beforehand and hand sanitiser upon entry.
• A process in place for distributing literature and for pupils who no longer need it.
• Single-use refreshments such as bottled water and prepared lunch bags - or having a dedicated colleague in PPE serving tea and coffee.
• Ensuring appropriate distance between the speaker and students within a classroom.
• Support for busier stands and talks, including implementing a schedule if required.
• Providing a track and trace process, noting down visitor details and providing guidance if either a student or visitor needs to get in touch with you after the event.
• Universities may have individual travel policies which prevent the use of public transport or other factors, so do check with all providers during planning.
• If space is limited, consider prioritising disadvantaged groups as evidence shows these groups will have been more affected with a lack of university guidance during lockdown.

When should I request support?

Universities receive a number of requests so ensuring your date is in the diary first will help the institution best allocate appropriate resources.

Don’t worry initially if you’re unsure whether it will take place virtually or physically, flexibility from all involved will be key over the next year.

Ensure speaker efficiency is maximised

Do not book multiple institutions to deliver the same talk to only a handful of students. Universities have limited resources and particularly this year will be trying to cover as many events as possible to support gaps in knowledge.

Good luck with your event

I hope you find these tips useful and whether it will be your first or your hundredth event, I wish you the best of luck in organising a successful event during such an unsettling time.



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


This brochure has been produced by UniTasterDays.com 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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