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University events for school and college students

From open days and taster courses to exhibitions and lectures, university events can offer significant support for your higher education guidance work – and to the academic experience of your students.
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To get the most from universities you need to tap into what's on offer, judge what's right for groups of students or individuals and get to know when to inform students of events which may need pre-booking.

So which university events and activities will help students decide on future choices or enrich their studies? 

Open days

If possible, Year 12s thinking about going to university should visit at least two open days at universities which they are interested in. 

Most open days include:

  • campus tours around accommodation, sports, and social areas
  • short subject introductory talks
  • taster lectures
  • the chance to talk to student ambassadors and ask any questions of admissions staff 

Most importantly, your students will be able to gauge how the place actually feels. Can they picture themselves studying and, in most cases, living there for at least three years?

Don’t forget there are also information talks and tours for any accompanying parents.

What's your role as an adviser? 

Prepare your students for the kinds of questions they need to ask at open days, and search for open days

Top tip: Remember that most open days require pre-booking, so preparation is key – hold some pre-visit briefings to ensure everyone has a productive day.

HE conventions and exhibitions

UCAS arranges over 50 exhibitions annually where your students can meet and ask questions of university representatives. Often, talks geared to particular groups form part of these events – such as applying to medicine, Oxford and Cambridge, and understanding the financial issues of university.

You can be fairly sure there will be one not too far away, usually between March and September, aimed at Year 12 students. There will also be careers and HE advisors as well as exhibitors from universities abroad. Additionally, there are hundreds of smaller events which schools and consortia of schools organise. 

Search for an exhibition

What’s your role as an adviser? 

  • Firstly, do you want all your students to attend? Perhaps you need to target those who may be inspired and reassured by the event rather than those who know they are going to apply for medicine and have already researched medical schools?
  • Secondly, it's all about the preparation again. Prepare with your students to ensure everyone has a checklist of key questions to ask and info to find out. Debrief students on return via tutors/advisers, to ensure they follow-up on the event.

Taster courses

There is a wide selection of opportunities to get a real taste of university-level study which you can advertise to your students. Most providers run summer taster days in a range of subject disciplines, and some offer short residential courses (often for students who meet certain criteria, such as receiving free school meals). 

FInd out more and search for taster courses

Online and public lectures

Many universities offer open access lectures - great for your well-motivated students if they live near enough. There are also online lectures and short courses, however, which are open to all. 

Where do you find this information? 

Check university websites, set up email alerts and, most importantly, sign up for mailing lists for a few key universities (local ones and those where most of your students go).

Communicating with your students

Displaying a few posters isn't going to reach everyone, so you need to use multiple platforms, such as: 

  • your school's intranet
  • a weekly bulletin to be read out by tutors
  • a sixth form Facebook page or Twitter account (subject to your school's safeguarding policy), to share information

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