Radcliffe Camera Oxford
Low angle shot of the Radcliffe Camera Library in Oxford, UK

Undergraduate Virtual Open Days allow visitors a taste of student life from a distance

In other years, the city of Oxford would have been filled this week with thousands of prospective students and their families, visiting for the Oxford University Undergraduate Open Days.

Colleges and departments typically would have opened their doors and welcomed their potential applicants to experience a taste of student life at Oxford.

Due to Covid-19, a physical Open Day has not been possible this year, but Oxford University has still been welcoming visitors. People have still had the chance to learn more about the University, the undergraduate courses available, the colleges and the city itself, because on Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 July, the University held its first ever Virtual Open Days.

More than 80 online events took place, involving around 1,200 staff and students from across the University and its colleges and departments. Visitors were able to watch more than 300 videos, go on virtual tours and ask questions of tutors and current students (around 24,000 questions were answered across the two days). People were also able to find out more about a whole range of student services including careers, fees and funding and disability support. A range of extracurricular activities were on display too, with representatives from some of the 400 clubs and societies available to Oxford undergraduates.

The creation and running of the Virtual Open Days took input from hundreds of staff and students, pulling together the first virtual event of its kind at the University. From the technical magic that created the site to the tutors, admissions coordinators and current students who answered thousands of questions throughout the days, it took an enormous collaborative effort to find a way to ensure that visitors had the positive, welcoming experience they would expect of a physical Open Day.

Even though it was not possible to visit the city and see the sights, that didn’t stop there being a buzz. The virtual event was incredibly popular, with more than 35,000 people attending.

Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford, said: 'These Open Days were designed with our visitors in mind; sitting in a comfy chair or at the kitchen table or even lounging in the garden. We are delighted that we have still been able to welcome people to the University, and that the events have been open to anyone, anywhere in the world.'

Idonea Muggeridge, Head of Communications in the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team, says: 'For the first time, our Open Days are accessible to those who can’t travel to Oxford and that is hugely exciting. It has felt strange for us to be running these events and engaging with thousands of students from across the world from our own homes, but also slightly miraculous and in tune with current times. Whilst we couldn’t replicate the beauty and atmosphere of Oxford itself, we hope the absence of queues and traffic jams meant participants had more time to enjoy exploring the opportunities and experiences which Oxford can offer its students.'