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The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

What are student fairs and open days?

Student Fairs and Open Days are hugely important for international students. We look at what they are and how they can help you make one of the biggest decisions of your life.

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Deciding to go to university is a major, life-changing decision. Along with buying a house, a university education is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make. You wouldn’t want to buy a house without seeing it first, would you? Why would you consider doing so with your university education?


When deciding to spend the next few years of your life studying and living abroad, you would want to know a bit more about the university and the course you’re about to invest your hard-earned money and time in. This is where student fairs and open days come in. 



What is a student fair?


A student fair is an event with representatives from many universities from around the world presenting themselves, the university, and the courses on offer. Student fairs are held all around the world. Each university has a stand/kiosk at the fair with various stands/tables displaying their university prospectus and other course information. 


As an international student, it’s very difficult and expensive to travel to each country and university you’re interested in before applying. The fairs are an opportunity to ‘visit’ a university and talk to the people working and studying there. 


They give international students a brief look into what it might be like to be a student at a particular university. It’s also a chance to speak to a real person who has the knowledge and the experience of the place you’re interested in. 


For universities, these fairs are known as student recruitment fairs as they’re an opportunity to increase awareness in their university and hopefully ‘recruit’ new students and increase their registration numbers.  


Why should you visit a student fair?


There are several reasons why visiting a student fair is an excellent opportunity for an international student. Here are just a few of them:


  • 'Visit’ as many universities as you can find under one roof.
  • Discover new universities you had never heard of or considered.
  • Ask about courses.
  • Find out about university life.
  • Talk to professors.
  • Meet students.
  • Get a ‘feeling’ for what a university is like. 
  • Ask about the application process.
  • Ask about English language requirements.
  • Find out about tuition fees.
  • Ask about scholarships and bursaries
  • Ask about accommodation and facilities.
  • Opportunity to practise interview skills.
  • Opportunity to improve English skills. 
  • Attend seminars.


Where can I find out about international student fairs?


Some fairs have been virtual, but most are held in person. Try searching for student fairs or student recruitment fairs near you. Alternatively, here are some useful links for you:




What are Open days?


These are very different from student fairs as they involve students visiting a university. Although you’re only able to attend one Open Day at a time, it’s a valuable opportunity to look around, ask questions and experience actual life on campus. 


Again, you can attend a virtual Open Day, but it won’t give you that instinctive feel for a new place. Universities around the world have Open Days, although in the USA and Canada, they are called Open House.  If you are lucky enough to attend an Open Day (or two) as an international student, here are some useful tips.






Tips – before the Open Day

  • Book your visit in advance.
  • Tell the university if you have any special requirements or disabilities.
  • Follow the university on social media platforms to get an idea of what it’s like. 
  • Read through the information pack the university sends you. 
  • Plan which talks, presentations and tours you want to attend.
  • Write down questions you want to ask. For example, accommodation, fees, and facilities
  • Ask someone to go with you. Two opinions are better than one. 



Tips – on Open Day

  • Speak to existing students.
  • Visit the faculty you’re interested in.
  • Speak to professors there. 
  • Ask questions about the course structure.
  • Ask questions about life on campus.
  • Ask questions about accommodation.
  • Find out about international student services and wellbeing services.
  • Ask the person who you took with you what they think of the university. 
  • Explore the surrounding area. You’ll be living locally. 



Tips – after your visit

  • Think about how you felt during your visit. Is it somewhere you could live and study for the next few years?
  • What about the local area? Did you feel safe? Did it have everything you need as a student living abroad?
  • Make a list of all the things you liked and didn’t like. Compare your list with the person who went with you. Which list is longer? Which is more important?
  • Discuss your options with your family and friends. 





To find out about each university’s Open Days or Open House days go directly to their website for information.


Attending an Open Day before investing so much time and money into higher education is hugely beneficial. As an international student not living in the country you would like to study in, as this may not be financially or logistically possible.


This is where attending international student fairs more locally to you is an advantage. You may not be able see yourself at the university of your choice in-person, but you will be able to talk to someone who does study or works there.


You’ll be able to have all your questions answered by a person without having to rely on websites or university prospectuses. There’s nothing more reassuring and helpful than talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about and understands your hopes and fears.  


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