Image credit: UAO
Thousands of prospective students and their families visited the city this week, for the Oxford University Undergraduate Open Days.

Undergraduate Open Days give visitors a flavour of student life

Thousands of prospective students and their families visited the city this week, for the Oxford University Undergraduate Open Days. On Wednesday 3 July and Thursday 4 July, the University and its colleges opened their doors to offer potential applicants a taste of University life. 

Open Days take place each year to allow those interested in applying to Oxford an opportunity to visit the University, and learn more about the undergraduate courses available, the collegiate university structure, and the city itself. 

All colleges, departments and University museum and library facilities held events showcasing their approach to learning, and offered tours and drop-in sessions to give prospective applicants and their loved ones the chance to meet and speak to tutors and current students. 

The University worked closely with the county and city councils, transport providers and traders to ensure the events went smoothly, and the surge in visitors caused minimal disruption for local traders and residents.

The Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team ran an Open Day Information Centre at the Examination Schools in the High Street, where student services such as Student Fees and Funding and Careers were on hand to give advice. The Oxford University Student Union also talked to visitors about the various extracurricular activities available, including the 400 plus clubs and societies currently available to Oxford undergraduates – including the University Sports Centre. 

Dr. Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford, said: 'Open days are a key step in the decision process for students when choosing the right university and course for them. Last year record numbers of visitors attended over the course of both days, and I look forward to welcoming more prospective students, parents and teachers to all that the collegiate University and city of Oxford have to offer.'

Idonea Muggeridge, Head of Communications in the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team at Oxford University, says: 'The thought of coming to a university like Oxford can be pretty daunting, especially for those who may have heard about dreaming spires and Inspector Lewis but don’t know someone who can tell them what it’s like here as a student. Our Open Days offer everyone a taste of student life at Oxford – they are the ideal opportunity to learn about our courses, explore colleges and quiz tutors and students. Oxford is a special place to live and study and we really want all our visitors, not only to soak up the atmosphere and have a great day, but also to leave with a clear idea of whether our university is somewhere they could be happy and thrive.'

Hundreds of staff and students across Oxford's colleges and departments took part in open day events. Along with the University's museums, libraries and other facilities, they volunteered their time to manage information points on Radcliffe Square and at the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road in the University’s Science Area, and ensure visitors had the positive, welcoming experience that they and the city deserve.

Why I volunteer at open days:

Image credit: UAOJoe Hyland, Merton College

Joe Hyland, a first year history student at Merton College, said: ‘I wanted to get involved with open days because I remember coming to one myself two years ago, and being really impressed by the people taking tours, and wanting to do something similar. Lots of people have questions about History, and I am really happy to help them out and demystify the Oxford jargon. When I first started the thing that most surprised me about Oxford was how normal everyone was. I thought I would have to talk posh, but everyone is really down to earth and just normal. Don’t believe what you have heard.’

Image credit: UAOJessica Fatoye, Corpus Christi College

Jessica Fatoye, who is in her first year of studying Medicine at Corpus Christi Vice President of the Oxford African Caribbean Society, and, said: ‘I have really enjoyed being a part of the open day, It has been so much fun! When I was touring Oxford I didn’t really see myself reflected in the open day helpers, and I think that that really would have influenced my applying. When I applied I was still really scared that Oxford wasn’t going to be the right place for me, because I didn’t think I would find people who could relate to my background, or understood where I was coming from culturally. So, I just thought, if I can volunteer for an open day then students from BAME backgrounds, or who have grown-up in a similar situations that I have,  may be encouraged to apply to Oxford and know that the University can actually be for them. It surprised me how much I could fit in here, and I hope they feel that way too.’

Image credit: UAOReem Ahmed, Christchurch College

Reem Ahmed, a third year classics student at Christchurch College, said: ‘I really like to get involved in open days. Sometimes the difference between choosing and not choosing a university can be whether or not you saw a friendly face during your time. I also think it is important for people to see someone like me here, and realise that they can do it too. I love taking part in open days and am very proud to represent my college. I really like the collegiate system, particularly that you can live in a college with hundreds of people, it’s almost like one big family. The academic opportunities are fantastic.’

Image credit: UAOTyrell Gabriel, Corpus Christi College

Tyrell Gabriel, who is a first year experimental psychology student at Corpus Christi College, said: ‘I love taking part in open days, and wanted to inspire the younger generation to come and study my course, which I really enjoy. It is a newer course and I want people to know how good it is. I think it is important for prospective students to see people like me here, Oxford are doing their bit to move things on in terms of access, and this way I can do my bit to help too.’

image credit: UAOAbby Swift, Communications Officer

Abby Swift, Communications Officer in the Academic Administration Department, said: ‘I love volunteering at open days, and have been taking part for over two years now. It is really, really fun to come out and meet everybody. We are on hand to give visitors advice on where they need to get to, and general information on university life. It is a big city and everyone is usually really grateful for a little help in the right direction. You get to learn so much more about the University beyond your department, and connect with new faces - often people that you have emailed, but never met before. It is really nice to meet with students and talk to prospective applicants – the reason we are here, and show off what a great place it is.’

Dr Matthew Williams, Access and Career Development Fellow at Jesus College: ‘The most important thing I want people to know about Oxford is that we are open – I don’t just mean literally, as-in our doors today, but, open-minded, open-hearted, and open to ideas. This isn’t the kind of place where only one type of face, or background fits. Hopefully by coming along to an open day, or finding us online, people can find that out for themselves.’