University Tips Blog
Image of students and parents at a university welcome talk at an open day
A headshot image of the author, Andy Jackson

by Andy Jackson

Recruitment Events Manager at the University of South Wales

posted on 29 Aug '23

A guide to university open events

The past two years have seen huge innovation and change in university open events, and the range of activities available to students can seem overwhelming. Attending university open events is one of the best ways to find out if a university and course is the right fit for a student.

Working out which events to attend and proper preparation is crucial to a student making the most of their time on campus. So, this is an insight into open events which will hopefully assist you when providing guidance to your students.

What are school/college visits and university taster days?

These events are a great option for introducing a class to higher education and the options that are available to them. These are usually arranged by a school and college liaison or outreach team at a university. Depending on when in the year you visit a campus, these can also include sessions on applying to UCAS and starting an application. Check out and individual university websites to find details of these events.

Image of a student planning events using a diary calendar

What are university open days?

Everyone knows about open days – right? Yes and no. While open days are the most well-known event, they can also be the most misunderstood. For many universities, the days of visitors just turning up and having a talk are long gone. Open days are changing and evolving, the open day will reflect the type of university and course the student has chosen, so there really is not a “one-size-fits-all” event, they will vary in size, shape, and content.

Students should visit 3 – 5 universities for open days. Even if they are really set on a specific university, it is a good idea to visit more than one to get perspective.

What are applicant and offer holder days?

After applying, most universities will invite prospective students for a second visit. These can either be once they have applied or after an offer has been made.

These events usually include more subject- based activities and may involve either a group or a one-to-one meeting with an academic member of staff. If your students are invited before an offer is made, they should check if this one-to-one is an interview or just an informal chat.

Online events and activities

Digital fatigue is real, but there is still real value in online activities. Many universities use Unibuddy, which allows prospective students to contact current students and staff, ask questions, and find out more about the university and student life.

Online open days and webinars are also valuable as they can give students another chance to hear from academic members of staff, ask questions to support services and follow-up anything they may have missed or were not clear on from an on-campus event. Some universities also run webinars on preparing for key events such as open days, results days, and ahead of enrolment.

To get the most out of events, preparation is key. Here are six top tips for your students:

1. Book a place for the event – this is the best way to know what to expect and to stay up to date.
2. Read the programme and other information (and check your junk folder).
3. Plan how to get to the open day, and check where to go – especially if there is more than one campus. If the event is online, plan which device to use and have the charger to hand.
4. Prioritise what to do and allow time for some queueing.
5. Bring a notebook and take photos, to document the day for reflection.
6. Think of some questions to ask on the day to support future decision making.

Prefer to listen?

Check out episode 7 of the UniTasterDays Uni Guide Podcast - a university events special!

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