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It’s that time of year again – whilst many pupils are in limbo, waiting for the results they hope will see them heading to the college of their dreams, the year below is turning its thoughts to UCAS and the perils of the dreaded personal statement. If you or your charges are planning to apply to university for 2016 entry, open days are one of the ways to start – virtually every college runs one, some run two or three, and they are excellent ways not only to find out about courses but also to get a feel for the place – could you really stand this concrete block/ivory tower for four years? What’s the accommodation like? Can you take up drama? Dungeons and dragons? The didgeridoo? Where’s the sports centre (and the bar)?

So here is a round-up of coming open days – you do need to book for most of them, so go to the relevant website and register your intention to take the next step into uncharted territory – the World Beyond School – and please check all dates and details with the universities before setting off.

August 2015

17th – Highlands & Islands; North Highland College

31st – Dundee


1st – Strathclyde + Aberdeen

2nd – Glasgow Caledonian

7th – Edinburgh

9th – West of Scotland Dumfries Campus

16th – West of Scotland Hamilton Campus

19th – Stirling

23rd – Abertay

25th – Heriot Watt

26th – Dundee + Edinburgh

30th – St Andrew’s + West of Scotland Paisley Campus


3rd – Edinburgh Napier (all campuses) + Glasgow Caledonian + Strathclyde + Robert Gordon’s University (Aberdeen)

7th – Robert Gordon’s University + West of Scotland Ayr Campus

14th – St Andrew’s

24th – Glasgow + University of the Highlands & Islands Theological College (Dingwall)

27th – Dundee (Art & Design only)

28th – St Andrew’s

31st – Heriot Watt + Stirling


5th – St Andrew’s

The University of Edinburgh offers some tips on how to get the most from your visit; make sure you study the programme for the day in advance, make a list of the timed events – talks, tours of halls, etc – that you want to attend, and register for any that require advance booking. At Edinburgh some talks are repeated throughout the day – those in the morning are often busiest, so you may have more luck with the later ones. Bring your queries about student finance, study abroad options, student support services, careers and facilities for disabled students, and don’t be afraid to ask – although you can of course contact the universities at any time, there’s no substitute for talking to staff – and current students – on the day. The University of Dundee also suggests visiting a variety of departments – you might find you’re interested in something you hadn’t previously considered, and it’s better to find out now!

Parents, friends and teachers are welcome at open days, but don’t worry if you’re going on your own – there will usually be Student Ambassadors to help you and you’ll soon meet other people. The Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh even offer low cost bed and breakfast in student halls for the night before the open day, and Aberdeen arranges an optional party in the evening. The University of Glasgow includes tours of the city in its programme and Edinburgh operates a shuttle bus between its various sites.

And if you can’t make the date of an open day, don’t despair – most universities offer private visits, self-guided tours, online chats and lots of ways to help you find out more – contact the admissions offices for information.

Good luck! Soon this could be you: