Being able to demonstrate you have experienced a university first-hand, even if just a short visit, is very useful in building your profile for your UCAS application as well as potential experience to reference on your personal statement. Also, it just helps you narrow which universities or specific courses you might apply for.

Universities appreciate not all students have the ability to take part in extra-curricular due to their family circumstances, but many are cost-free depending on your situation. Also, these experiences also help you be sure of what you would like to do. 

Top tip...

Because places are limited, you will usually need to apply to Summer Schools or placements in October or November for a programme the following summer, so make sure you explore Summer School options in Year 11 so you are ahead of the curve! 

Open Days

Open days give you the opportunity to visit a university and to consider whether it might be the right place for you. You will typically meet with staff and students, and be given the opportunity to ask questions about student life, including courses, accommodation, student facilities, finances etc. While these days are aimed at prospective students, parents or guardians are usually very welcome to join.

UCAS Open Days Listings

WhatUni Search Open Days

Taster Courses and Days

Taster courses are offered by many institutions to enable you to get a feel for what it would be like to study your subject there. You will typically experience some of the different teaching methods and gain insight into the facilities available.

UCAS Taster Courses Search Tool

Uni Taster Days

Summer Schools & Placements

A summer school is a course that is run by a university for a week or two during the summer school holidays. These are often residential, with pupils staying in student accommodation on campus. They typically offer intensive tuition in a certain subject, combined with extracurricular activities.

There are many benefits to attending summer schools, including:

  • gaining experience of campus life
  • studying a subject beyond the school curriculum
  • working out whether the host university might be the right one for you
  • meeting new peers and making new friends
  • strengthening your UCAS application.

Another major benefit of summer schools is that they can create a connection between you and the university. For example, you may get to know some of the teaching staff for your course. As well as this, under certain circumstances, universities may give preference to applicants that have attended one of their summer schools.

There are other placements (varying in length) that can give you similar benefits, too. 

Sutton Trust Summer Schools

Realising Opportunities Placements

Nuffield STEM Placements

These are most commonly targeted at students in Year 12, but there are options for younger students too.

Don't forget this list are just SOME of the opportunities out there: Be sure to check universities you are interested in to see if they have a Summer School, special placements or open days!