Cookies at Which? We use cookies to help improve our sites. If you continue, we'll assume that you're happy to accept our cookies. Find out more about cookies

For teachers

Events and summer schools to prepare students for Higher Education

Organising events in your school or college is a great way to help students make smart choices about Higher Education (HE) or find alternative routes. And there’s a wealth of activities outside school, too.

We've got some tried and tested ideas to help you get organised.

Events to arrange in school

For Key Stages 3 and 4

Whatever the nature of your school and its students, it is a good idea to introduce Key Stage 3 pupils to the benefits of going to university. Your alumni are the best people to promote high aspirations – bring them in to lead an activity with younger children.
 
Many universities have Widening Participation and Outreach teams, which are another excellent source of guidance. They offer mini taster days to show what it’s like to live and study at university and many will come and talk to your pupils and run activities in your school.
 
For sixth form
 
Events such as information assemblies, seminars and bespoke group sessions (e.g. Oxbridge preparation) play a crucial role in informing students about key decision and provide them with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. Here is a suggested calendar:
 
Autumn Year 12: setting the scene

Event title: My options after sixth form
  • Why go to University
  • How students can begin preparing now
  • Other routes they may choose
Bespoke events: Begin Oxbridge and medicine preparation with those interested. Focus these events on reading and research.

Spring Year 12: researching options

Event title: What and where to study?
  • How to find out information about universities
  • Using research tools such as Which? University
  • Key elements in successful applications - grades, work experience (for some courses), personal statement, reference
Event title: Alumni afternoon Bespoke events:
  • Parents HE information event - invite a keynote speaker from a university
  • Continue Oxbridge/medicine preparation sessions
Summer Year 12: making decisions

Event title: How to complete your Ucas application
  • Workshops on Ucas forms
  • Personal statements workshops
  • Address issues around deferred applications and gap years
Bespoke events:
  • Interviews and pre-admissions tests practice for relevant groups
  • Studying a subject at university - ask teachers from a range of subjects to do short university-style seminars on their subjects
Autumn Year 13: deadline time

Event title: student finance essentials
  • Understanding student finance and funding
  • Budgeting at university
Event title: finalise your uni application
  • Set the school's own deadlines for processing applications!
  • Finalise the process of completing and submitting Ucas forms
  • How Ucas references are written
Bespoke events:
  • Continue preparation for tests and interviews
  • Art Foundation applications - establish portfolio workshops and application guidance
Spring Year 13
  • As offers come in ensure your students know all about Ucas Extra and firm/insurance choices
  • Preparation for results day, including clearing and adjustment

Events outside school

There is so much on offer outside school that you have to be selective. Ideally, have someone in your team whose role it is to publicise what's on offer and identify which students will benefit most.

Check your nearest university's website and contact the relevant Widening Participation or Outreach teams to see what events or residential courses are available. We give a few examples below but there are many more.
  • Higher education fairs/conventions: Take your students along – there is certain to be one coming to a location not too far away. Make sure you prepare students beforehand with useful questions to ask.
  • Summer taster courses: Most universities run these. In the London area there is a comprehensive programme to which most London universities and colleges contribute. Similarly, Manchester runs ‘Discover Days’ for Year 12s. Find out what is on where and when through Uni Taster Days.
  • Sutton Trust summer schools: University residential summer schools for Year 12 students. These are targeted at those who meet particular widening participation criteria - for example, eligible for free school meals or resident in a postcode with low progression rates to higher education. Check out Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme for potential law students.
  • Headstart summer schools: Encouraging more students, especially girls, to consider science degrees is a national priority. Headstart summer schools (some residential; all low cost) are for students from Year 10 onwards, with many encouraging girls to participate.
  • Pre-university residential summer schools: One- or two-week courses in the summer holidays for year 11 and 12 students at institutions such as King’s College London and UEA in Norwich. Priority is sometimes given to those who meet widening participation criteria.
  • Open days and campus visits: Make sure you contact the university you wish to visit some months ahead as days get booked up.
  • Subject specific events: Some subjects, such as medicine, offer specific events. For example Medlink, held at Nottingham University, and Bristol’s Aspire to Medicine summer school.

Next:

Expert tips - straight to your inbox
Free resources for teachers
Sign me up