We’re back: Open Day 2021

Posted by cc576 at Jul 09, 2021 02:29 PM |
See how the day went

Last weekend we held our first in-person Open Day since 14 September 2019. It was not just a day of mixed weather, but mixed emotions, as staff and students reunited with each other for the first time in nearly two years. And just as the sun broke through the rain clouds, bathing the estate in a beautiful glow that bounced off the multi-coloured bunting and flags, luscious plants and handy signage, the nerves fell away and the buzz of excitement and happiness reverberated around campus once more.

It was not just an Open Day for prospective students, but a re-opening day for our current students and staff, too.


The Open Day was both virtual and in-person, so prospective students and their families could learn more about the University in a way that they felt comfortable with. 1444 people tuned in online, while nearly 350 prospective students headed to campus to take part in talks with academics and students, attend information fairs, take part in tours of campus and check out their potential homes on accommodation tours.

“I was part of the directions team near the Geography and Geology stands, and was able to speak to prospective students about my experiences as a Geography student. It was so nice to finally be having conversations with people in the same environment they will actually be studying in, and to meet some of the prospective students who I’d already spoken to in Unibuddy.

“The true highlight of the day was seeing so many people back on campus again, and if I had to describe it in one word I’d say ‘amazing’”.

“Hectic but fun”

Sophie Wakeling was the campus tour leader for the day. She kept track of which ambassador was delivering which tour and who they had with them.

“It was lovely to be back for a real life Open Day! The atmosphere was great, especially because our campus tour hut was right by the music. Despite the rain, everybody was smiling and we were all excited to be able to talk to people face-to-face again. One of the highlights for me was just being able to chat with staff members who I’ve worked with throughout the year but behind layers of PPE – particularly Ruth Barber, who organises the lateral flow testing on campus, who I’ve only ever spoken to while wearing gloves, apron mask and visor! How would I describe the day? Hectic but fun!”

“Safe and secure”

Throughout the day, visitors expressed how grateful they were that the University was holding an in-person event, and how relieved they were to not only be attending an event, but to attend one that was so well-organised and felt so comfortable and safe.

Neale Goff, Director of Health and Safety, and his team did a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe.

“The campus was already COVID secure, but we also worked with the events team in preparing risk assessments for the day. We reduced the number of people attending and asked them to take a lateral flow test before coming, as well as keep masks on and maintain social distancing. Campus looked great, it felt safe and secure and staff and visitors all felt assured that we were in control”.


By reducing the numbers of visitors to the Open Day, and making all tours, talks and meetings with academics bookable, we made the experience more personal and engaging, something which many people commented on and that we will continue to do for future Open Days. Stewart Fishwick is the Head of School for Geography, Geology and the Environment, which on a day-to-day basis sees him teach, research and tackle plenty of admin. But during the Open Day he played speaker, tour guide and host, allowing him to really engage with potential students.

“I gave the introduction to Geology talk, a tour of the Bennett Building for one of the Geology visitors and generally spoke to visitors. Open days are always really good, as visitors get to see the University, talk with students and staff, and realise how good a place this would be to come. I think perhaps visitors were even more grateful to be on-site and learning about our University than normal.

“The highlight of the day for me was just seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they visited, it felt like the right thing for us to be back on campus once again. If I had to describe the day in one word, it would be ‘therapeutic’. It’s been a pretty hard few months, and seeing students, staff and visitors enjoying interacting with each other gave me that feel-good feeling.”


Kerry Law, Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, was on campus and felt first-hand the atmosphere and the sense of normality returning.

“I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved in making the Open Day such a success. The first large-scale in-person event was always going to be a bit daunting for students, staff and visitors, but the whole day just felt like we were welcoming people home.

“For me, the day can be summed up by the word ‘proud’ – proud of our students, staff, the teams working behind the scenes to make campus safe, secure and looking beautiful. I can’t wait to be back with you all for more in-person Open Days very soon”

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