Disabled students: Preparing for open days and visits

Open days are a valuable way of finding out about a university or college first hand – you can tour the facilities, speak to staff and current students, and really get a feel for whether you would like to study there.

If you have individual support needs, it is an ideal opportunity to understand what support is available and to make contact with those who are responsible for putting it in place. Don’t forget that many universities offer virtual open days as well, so if you can’t visit in person, you don’t have to miss out.

To get the most out of your day, it is worth doing some preparation in advance, and planning your visit – we’ve put together a checklist to help you get started.

Find open days (including virtual events).

Before you go

  • Check the available dates here and sign up to attend – spaces fill up quickly. The university or college will send you more information about attending.
  • Contact the disability support team or student services to make any access arrangements (e.g. Blue Badge parking, a sign language interpreter, or audio loops).
  • Make an appointment to meet the disability support team or mental health adviser to discuss your support needs and make a list of questions to ask in advance – this can also be done online. Check our guide to speaking to the disability support team or mental health adviser to help you make this.
  • Make an appointment to speak to the course tutor if you would like to talk about teaching and assessment methods and facilities, and to discuss how your support needs might be accommodated.
  • Download or print a map of the campus, familiarise yourself with the location of the important facilities, and make a note of what you want to visit – many universities provide accessibility maps, so check their website. Remember: if the university or college has more than one campus, check which you need to go to!
  • If you are planning to use public transport, check where the railway station or bus stop is in relation to the campus to help you work out how to complete your journey. Some providers operate a ‘park and ride’ system for open days.
  • Check the schedule for campus and accommodation tours, subject talks and tours, and financial talks – these usually run several times throughout the day but you may need to register in advance. If required, speak to the disability support team to arrange communication aids, and to ensure the tour routes are accessible.

On the day

  • Wear something comfortable – you will outside as well as inside, and there will be some walking. You will not be expected to dress formally.
  • Make notes and take photos as a memory aid later on.
  • Take a bag – there are often giveaways and leaflets.
  • Lunch is usually available to purchase on campus; most providers cater to a variety of tastes and dietary requirements – or feel free to bring your own.
  • Don’t forget to speak to the student ambassadors about their experiences. If you are particularly keen to speak to a disabled student, speak to the disability support team who will be happy to make arrangements. You can also speak to students after the event via UniBuddy.
  • Attend any relevant talks and tours of the academic department or faculty for the course you are interested in to get a feel for the environment and facilities.
  • Visit the different accommodation options if you are planning to live on campus, and consider the facilities available, such as catered options and accessibility.
  • Make sure you visit the library – it’s going to be an important part of your life! There will be a wealth of resources and study support options, so try to speak to a librarian if they are available.
  • You can get more information about the clubs and societies from the student union. Check if there is a disabled students’ representative or someone who assists with student mental health issues – they may be available to talk to you.
  • If you have time at the end of the day, visit the town or city and consider what local facilities are available. You can do this online if you don’t have time, or speak to current students via UniBuddy.