Events and fairs

An average student spends about 980 hours a year at uni or college*. It's a huge chunk of your time, so you really want to pick the right place. That's why open days and events are so important.

An average student spends about 980 hours a year at uni or college*. It's a huge chunk of your time, so you really want to pick the right place. That's why open days and events are so important.

Virtual Higher Education Exhibitions

Due to current Government guidance around the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibitions on college and university campuses have been cancelled or postponed. Some events may still run in autumn but UCAS are running virtual exhibitions in the meantime.

These exhibitions will help you explore a wide range of academic and career opportunities in specific subject areas. You can find out more about UCAS virtual events on the UCAS website.

What's on offer?

Rather than having to attend every open day across the country, you can find out about different universities, colleges and employers in the one place. If you're not quite sure what you want to do, it's a great place to explore

On the other hand, if you're already set on what you want to do, you can use the day to get as much information as possible to help with your application. 

In the virtual exhibition you can:

  • Chat with people from the colleges, universities and employers you're interested in
  • Ask all about the courses or jobs they offer, what they're looking for in an ideal candidate, and what life's like on campus
  • Make contacts who might be able to help you after the event
  • Attend online seminars on everything from gap years to UCAS applications

Being prepared will help you make the most of the event. 

How to prepare before the event

No matter what event you're attending, preparation is important. A little bit of organisation will help you make the most of the experience.

First, think about what you're actually looking for from the day. Check out who will be attending. Find out if there are any seminars or talks you can join.

Decide in advance who you most want to talk to (check out the quesitons below for tips on what to ask about!), and which seminars you'd like to attend. Make a list of things you don't want to miss. 

Three ways My World of Work can help you prepare:

  1. The strengths and about me sections of your account will help you find job profiles and courses which would suit you. This can help when you’re making a decision about what course to do
  2. The Learn and train search lets you find a huge range of courses – including UCAS information. This will give you an idea of who to talk to and what you want to focus on at an event
  3. The college and university page gives you information about college and uni, what the differences are, and how to pick a course that's right for you
Attending an open day or HE Exhibition helps you make decisions about what course to study

What to do during the event

Make sure you:

  • Attend all the virtual seminars you want to and pick up some digital prospectus'. Go back to the list you made. Have you checked off everything you wanted to do?
  • Talk to people! Even though things might be a bit different this year, it's still your chance to learn some really useful information. The college and uni reps and employers are there to see you, so make the most of it. Don't be afraid to ask questions
  • Take notes. You'll be getting a lot of details at once. Jotting things down will help you when you're thinking back on the day

Ten questions you should be asking

Whether you’re at a virtual open day, college fair, HE Exhibition, or Skills Scotland event you’ll want to prepare some questions in advance.

This starter list will help you get the information you want from an event – but don’t forget to think about any others you could add. 


How is the course taught?

If you’re a practical person but the course is mainly lectures, it may not be for you.


Is there a work placement?

This could be good if you’re hands-on. It’ll also help you make contacts for when you graduate.


Can I choose my other subjects?

Find out what you can pick outwith your core subjects. It might help you choose between similar courses.


How do I stand out?

That is – are minimum entry requirements enough or do you need to show relevant work experience or extracurricular activities.


What are the deadlines?

Some courses have earlier application deadlines and you don’t want to miss them.


What about accommodation?

Find out if there’s guaranteed accommodation for first year students and what costs are involved.


Is it easy to find a student house?

Good to know if you're moving away from home. Even if you’re in halls in first year, you'll need somewhere to stay for the rest of your course.



How are the campus facilities?

Ask about lecture halls, labs, workshops, the library, cafeterias, and shops.


What’s the social life like?

It’s about more than classes. Ask for information about societies and clubs, the union and local night life.


What have graduates gone on to?

Knowing where your course can lead helps when you’re making decisions.

After the event

After the event, it's time to think through everything you've learned. 

Three useful things to do after the event:

  1. Research your preferred courses, unis, colleges and employers. The colleges and universities guide here on My World of Work can help
  2. Use sites such as Unistats to find out how students rate their courses
  3. Email course tutors, and find out what you can from current students


A male student with a backpack outside a college building

Virtual tours

Want to explore campuses before you visit them?

Search for universities and colleges to see what they look like and the facilities they have.

Open days

An open day is your chance to properly explore a campus and get a proper taste of what that university or college is really like. 

Many universities and colleges are running virtual open days where you can attend online lectures and talks which will give you a feel for student life. Lecturers, teaching staff and current students will be there, so make sure you ask them plenty of questions. The answers you get will help you decide if it's the place for you. You might also be able to take virtual tours of the campus and accommodation.

A pile of books on the grass outside a college building

* Of course we did the maths.

Depending on what course you're studying, and where you study, the amount of actual class time will vary. But even if you're not in lectures, labs and seminars through the week, you'll need to be studying. Adding together classes and independent study, this should average out to about 35 hours of uni or college work per week for full-time students.

Then, assuming there's two 11-week terms and a shorter six-week term, we multiplied 35 by 28 weeks and got 980 hours a year.