Planning your day | University of Oxford

Planning your day

There is so much to see and do on Open Days that we recommend you arrive early and spend a long day in Oxford. The earliest events start at 08:00 and the latest at 18:00. You need to allow plenty of time to arrive into the city along with the many thousands of other Open Day visitors.  It's a good idea to start with a visit to your subject department in the morning and then visit a shortlist of colleges in the afternoon. This will give you the best chance to find out what it’s like to study and live in Oxford. Our Open Day Guide will help you plan your day.

Prepare in advance

Which course?

The most important decision you have to make about university is which subject(s) you would like to study. If you haven’t decided yet, we strongly recommend that you read about the courses you’re interested in before you come to Oxford.  At the Open Day, you can find out more from subject departments and from students and tutors at any colleges that offer that course.

Which college?

The most popular question on Open Days is "which college should I visit?"  Visiting any of the colleges will give you a good idea how the college system in Oxford works. You won't have enough time to visit them all so our advice is to draw up a shortlist before you come. First check which colleges offer your course, then read our advice on how to choose a college. Oxford SU (Students' Union) offer a popular college suggester which will give you another point of view. 

All undergraduate colleges will be open to drop-in visitors during our Open Days. There will be lots of opportunities to tour colleges, to talk to tutors and students and to attend events. Please check if you need to book in advance for any of these events.

Which questions?

It is important to read about the Oxford application process before you come. You could also look at the Alternative Prospectus produced by Oxford SU (Students' Union). This will help you to come up with a list of questions to ask staff and students on the day.

We hope you will find all the information you need in the departments and colleges you visit, but if you have any more questions, please visit the Open Day Information Centre in the High Street, open from 09:00 until 17:00. Here you can ask more general questions about admissions, fees and funding, careers or simply ask directions.

How to get here and where to stay?

Please read our travel advice when you are planning your journey. We work with the council and transport providers to make this as useful as possible. The most important thing is to allow plenty of time to arrive at your first venue. We recommend that you add up to one hour to the usual predicted journey time to allow for extra traffic and road works around Oxford on the day. Some of our events fill up quickly, so please do arrive early to ensure you get a space and to help us keep things running smoothly all day.

We recognise that the cost of travelling to Open Days can be high and some colleges are able to assist with travel funding. If you are travelling far, and it will be difficult for you to make a return journey in one day, there are also opportunities to stay the night at one of the colleges in Oxford. This is often free of charge. Each Oxford college is linked to a region of the UK, and some colleges prioritise places for students from their link area. Details about accommodation and any travel funding will be made available closer to the dates of the 2019 Open Days.

Unfortunately colleges are usually unable to accommodate parents - the Conference Oxford or Experience Oxfordshire websites may help you find somewhere else to stay.


  • Some events require advance booking. This is usually done on college and department's own websites.
  • If events are full, sometimes we ask parents or companions to give up their places for other prospective students. There are lots of events which are just for parents and everyone is welcome all day at the Open Day Information Centre. Plenty of parents are happy to go for a coffee and that is also fine.
Check whether or not you need to book.
Some departments and colleges hold specific events for which booking is required, so to avoid disappointment, check the details for the departments and colleges you want to visit. There is no centralised booking for our Open Days so you will need to book directly with the college or department hosting the event you want to attend. Colleges may also offer lunch (and even accommodation if you have a long way to travel), which is a great way to experience a little of Oxford life for yourself. There is no need to book at the libraries, museums, sports centre or the Open Day Information Centre.

 What to bring

  • Your plan for the day - write this down
  • Confirmation of any events you have booked to attend
  • Your shortlist of colleges
  • A copy of the Open Days Guide which includes a map – highlight the events you want to go to and the route between them
  • A raincoat, sun cream or both!
  • A pen for taking notes
  • A bag to carry all your papers
  • Comfortable shoes

Don’t bring

  • The car, if you can avoid it. Parking in Oxford isn’t easy... especially on Open Days.

See our travel advice page.