Open days at Oxford and Cambridge occur several times a year, usually in late June and September - just at the end of the academic year and just before the start of the new academic year.
Cambridge open days
Cambridge only allows pupils in their final year of school or submitting an application that year to join the official open day events. However, if you are not yet a final year student, you still have opportunities to take advantage of some of the offerings of the open day. Most importantly, you can book online tickets for open day events on the Cambridge website. This allows you to attend certain university-wide as well as college events. It also gives you free access to all colleges in order to allow you to take part in student-guided tours that give you a feel for the grounds, dining and library facilities as well as student accommodation.
The tickets also give you a chance to visit some of the most impressive buidlings in Cambridge for free, such as King's College Chapel. During the college tours and in the colleges' information rooms, you will have a chance to speak to current students about their experiences studying at Cambridge, the subjects they chose and day-to-day college life. We recommend booking your tickets early, as the university-wide (/departmental) tickets may be sold out closer to the open day.
Oxford open days
Anyone can attend Oxford's open day events and tickets or pre-booking are not necessary for most events at both college and university levels. For both Oxford and Cambridge open days we recommend you first decide on your subject(s) of interest. If you are still deciding between subjects, choose those you are most interested in and figure out a manageable schedule to visit those subjects' events. The most interesting events usually include:
Meeting individual tutors
At both Oxford and Cambridge you can arrange to meet and speak to individual subject tutors at various colleges to get a better feel for the subject(s) you are interested in as well as the staff who would teach you during your degree. Some tutors are very open to and keen on meeting prospective applicants, because it gives them a better idea of who the applicant is and may help them make a more informed decision when the applicant comes for interviews. They are also often motivated to encourage you to apply and inform you about the subject, so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
However, some tutors may be short on time during the open days or less interested in meeting potential applicants in order not to privilege or disadvantage any candidates at the interview stage. In order to find a tutor who is willing and free to meet you, we recommend looking at the faculty page of the subject you are applying to (e.g. for Classics, google "Classics tutors at Cambridge") and contacting a few members of staff listed there per email.
Come to the tutor meetings prepared with your questions. Topics tutors will often talk about or that are worth asking them about are:
Visiting both universities
If you are interested in both Oxford and Cambridge universities, you may wish to visit both for open days. Usually both universities' open daysd are close in dates - at times even overlapping. Travel between the cities can be cumbersome by train or bus, hence you may find it useful to book a taxi for the trip (ca. GBP 135 for 4 people between Oxford and Cambridge).
Book accommodation early
Hotels in the Oxford and Cambridge area may be fully booked during open days. In consequence, we recommend finding accommodation early to capture lower prices and conveniently located hotels. Students may also stay for free at certain colleges, e.g. Magdalen College or Christ Church at Oxford. This is a great option to get a good feel for living at the college, to meet other applicants also staying overnight there, and to have more time to chat to students and staff at the college.
Enjoying Oxford and Cambridge
There are many great options for food in both university towns. In Cambridge, walking near the river and down the High Street you will find plenty of attractive restaurants to suit any taste. In Oxford, the Quod restaurant on High Street and Vaults and Gardens in the basement of the University Church of St Mary are particularly recommended. If you would like to try traditional pub food, try the Turf Tavern - hidden off Holywell Street - or the Eagle and Child.
Visiting the towns for open days also gives you an opportunity to see other interesting parts of the cities. For example, in Oxford you may wish to visit the Ashmolean museum, a free museum and the oldest in the UK, which also has a beautiful rooftop terrace for lunch or coffee. The Randolph Hotel opposite it is a brilliant place to try "High Tea", as are several cafes on the High Street. It is worth going on a guided tour of the Bodleian Library - the second largest library after the British Library in London - which holds a copy of every book published in the UK and has beautiful interiors in which the Harry Potter movies were filmed. During open day, the tours of the Bodleian Library are free of charge for prospective students and accompanying family and ffirnds. Finally, the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Covered Market, both off High Street, are well worth a visit.
In Cambridge, you may also wish to take a guided punting tour, in which you will be chauffeured along the river in so-called punts. Guides explain the history of the colleges and other landmarks you pass - including how James Bond was named and who the person behind "M" in 007 is based on.
We accompany families or individuals visiting open days at Oxford and Cambridge. Our tutors plan the trip (events to visit, tutors to meet, accommodation in hotels and colleges, meals, transport and leisure events) and accompany you during your stay to give you background information on what you see, answer further questions and guide you to all event locations without difficulty.
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