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For teachers

University events for your 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.

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. Look at Ucas's open day video with them and share our advice pages on open day questions by subject

Opendays.com is a useful resource for finding open day dates.

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, Oxbridge 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. 

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 about 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/advisors, 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 institutions 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). 

Read our events and summer schools article for ideas about what sorts of taster courses are available at universities. 

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. Here are some examples:
  • Southampton University offers a range of online short courses and study guides including one designed to assist students undertaking research (for example, those doing an EPQ).
  • The University of Birmingham, in common with many other UK universities, delivers MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in partnership with Future Learn. These are free and easily accessible.
  • Newcastle University also belongs to the Future Learn network with a wide range of online lectures to complement public lectures.

Where do you find all this information? 

Ensure you 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: 
  • Your school's intranet
  • A weekly bulletin to be read out by tutors
  • Set up a sixth form Facebook page or Twitter account (subject to your school's safeguarding policy) to share information.

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