University Open Days: Your Essential 2021 Guide

If you’re aiming to apply to a UK university in the next 1-2 years, now is the time to start planning out which university Open Days you’re going to attend this summer!

It’s very important to get to know the universities you are applying to before you submit your application, and attending one of more of their admissions events is the best way to achieve this.

The good news is that 2021 looks set to be something of a hybrid year for Open Days, with most universities offering some combination of online sessions and on-campus events. This has the benefit of making this year’s admissions cycle more inclusive than ever before. 

In this brand new Save My Exams guide, you’ll find our expert tips for making the most of an Open Day (whether it’s online or offline), followed by a helpful summary of the key upcoming admissions events at the top UK universities. 

How to attend an Open Day

In the majority of cases, you’ll need to pre-register on the website of the university in advance. Parents and prospective students are equally welcome to sign up, and you are not committing yourself to anything by doing this.

It’s a good idea to look at the schedule for the event in advance, so you can make sure that you either log on at the right time (for online events), or be in the right location at the right time (for on-campus events). 

Remember that, with a busy school term ahead, it’s important not to over-commit to Open Days. Instead of signing up to every event  on offer,  take the time to research and plan exactly which events you’d like to participate in – and think carefully about what you want to get out of your attendance.

Can’t decide whether you should sign up? Ask yourself: 

  • Do I have the right predicted grades for this university or course? 
  • Is the course I want to take offered by this university? 
  • Would I be happy to live in this town/city?

If the answer to all three is ‘yes’, then go ahead and sign up! Next, ask yourself:

  • Can I access this content online at a later date? 
  • What specific questions do I want answered at this event? 
  • Which sessions should I prioritise in order to find the answers to these questions?

Virtual or In-Person: which is better?

Predictably, there are positives and negatives to each type of Open Day. Ultimately, you should do what you think will be most helpful for your decision making, whilst also being mindful of using your time efficiently. 

Both types of Open Day should give you the opportunity to learn more about courses, departments, the application process, student life, and finance. 

Strengths of Virtual Open Days:

  • More convenient (especially for international students) – attend from anywhere!
  • Easy to join and leave sessions 
  • Time-efficient: attend multiple events or sessions in one day 
  • No crowds
  • Revisit the content at your own pace

Strengths of In-Person Open Days and campus visits: 

  • Explore the campus, accommodation and facilities independently 
  • Get a better feel for the local area 
  • Meet other prospective and current students in person
  • Meet university staff for a face-to-face conversation

Important dates for your diary

The University of Cambridge

This year, Cambridge will be running two Virtual Open Day series 

  • 5-18th July (live events 8-9th July) 
  • 13-26th September (live events 16-17th September)

Aimed at prospective applicants from Year 12 (or equivalent) and their supporters, these events take place over two weeks via the University’s Virtual Tour. There will be the opportunity to ask current students and staff questions during two days of live Q&A sessions.

To attend the Virtual Open Days, register in advance via the online booking form

(Note, the Virtual Open Day for Disabled Students will run from 10-11th of July)

The University of Oxford

Oxford’s 2021 Open Days on the 30th of  June and the 1st of July will take place online.

The final Open Day for this year will take place on the 17th of September, either online or in Oxford. Head to the admissions website for further details.

Durham University

The next Durham Open Day will take place virtually on Saturday 19th of June between 9am and 7pm.  

Once you have booked your place, you’ll also be able to access all the online content on-demand from 17th June to 5th of July. 

They are promising Open Day attendees ‘the full Durham experience’ via their interactive platform, video content, chat rooms and live events.

The University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Uni’s Undergraduate Virtual Open Days will be taking place online from Monday 21st of June to Thursday 24th of June.

Across these dates, students will have the opportunity to attend live presentations and Q&As, speak to staff and current students in live chats and find out all you need to know about studying at the University of Edinburgh. 

Details of dates and times of activities running for each of our subject areas and services will be available here, and booking for the event will open at the end of May.

The University of Bristol 

Bristol Uni are running a Virtual Open Week from the 21-25th of June. Use their website to search and book as many of the one-hour sessions as you’d like to attend. 

There’s a dedicated session for each course, alongside sessions on accommodation, being BAME at Bristol, sport scholarships and much more.

UCL (University College London)

UCL’s Undergraduate June Virtual Open Days are taking place between the 7 and 18th of June.

Their virtual Open Days site (and the bookings for the live interactive sessions) will go live on the 7th – register your details in advance on their website.

They are promising subject admissions, opportunities to speak to admissions staff and academic tutors, and the chance to interact with current students and alumni to find out what studying at UCL is really like.

The University of Manchester

The Manchester Uni virtual open week will take place between the 14th and 19th June, featuring:

  • Live general sessions covering all aspects of student life (Monday to Friday)
  • Live subject sessions detailing your chosen course (Saturday)

Register your interest to be the first to know when bookings open for individual sessions, and whilst you’re waiting, check out their interactive ‘Virtual Manchester’ portal for 360-degree tours, webinars and one-to-one chats.

The University of Exeter

Exeter Uni are offering four days of events, each of which is focussed on a different subject area:

  • 1 June – subjects from the College of Humanities
  • 2 June – subjects from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and the College of Medicine and Health
  • 3 June – subjects from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the Exeter Business School
  • 4 June – subjects from the College of Social Sciences and International Studies

On each day, academics and students studying those subjects will host live chat sessions. Student Ambassadors, accommodation, admissions and support services staff will be available for all four events, as well as information about all their subjects and lots of web and video resources.

Book your place on their website, where you’ll also find links to Virtual tours and FAQs for International Students.

Can’t see your target uni on the above list? Visit the UCAS website to find details of all upcoming university Open Days and events – both online and offline. 

We’d love to hear all about your Open Day experiences this year – good or bad – so do get in touch via our social media channels (@SaveMyExams) to let us know how you get on.

If you’re looking for further advice and support with the university admissions process, you’ll find many more helpful guides on the Save My Exams blog, including:

The University Courses You Didn’t Know Existed 

A Parent’s Guide To Personal Statements

Studying Astrophysics at University: This is what it’s REALLY like

Studying Biochemistry at Oxford: This Is What It’s Really Like

Studying Maths at University: What is it REALLY Like?

Applying to University in the UK: Tips For International Students

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