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What are university fairs and how can you squeeze the most out of them?

Make the most of your time at a university fair with these top tips from members of The Student Room

Ucas fairs – also known as discovery events or exhibitions – can be a great way to assess your university options.  

Here, we’ll take a look at what these events are as well as how you can use them to help decide your next steps.  

What is a university fair or Ucas exhibition?

University fairs take place in a large venue where different universities have a booth with a representative you can ask questions to. 

The reps are there to sell you their university – so they'll probably give you glowing reviews – but you could still get a good idea of which places you'll consider applying to from these conversations. 

Ucas exhibitions can give you a better idea of uni life in general as well as the course you're considering. It won't just be university reps there, you'll also be able to listen to talks from experts in their fields and speak with Ucas staff to get support with your options. 

Six tips to get the most from a university fair/Ucas exhibition

1. Have an idea of the universities you want to see

There's a lot going on at university exhibitions, so it's good to have a plan before you go; knowing in advance which university stalls you want to visit can help you make the most of your time at the fair.

"The best thing to get the most out of it is to do some preparation before the event," says The Student Room member PQ. "The Ucas website will have a list of all the universities attending, so make a list of the ones you definitely want prospectuses from."

"Pick up a prospectus for universities offering the subject you’re interested in and then filter them down to the ones with entry requirements within a grade or two of what you’re hoping to achieve."

Search for courses on The Uni Guide filtered by entry requirements, or take a look at our university profiles to see student satisfaction ratings and reviews. 

You can also visit The Student Room's university forums to see what other students are saying about the universities you're interested in. 

2. Consider getting there early

The earlier you get there, the more time you'll have to look around and chat to students and staff at the universities – including some that may not have been on your original shortlist.

"Try to resist the rush," says PQ. "Take your time, browse and look at stands and information for universities that you don’t know much about. You might be surprised or come across the perfect place for you."

3. Be prepared to queue and have questions in mind

To make the most of your time, prepare the questions you want to ask universities in advance. For example, think about what information you want to know about your preferred course – like the modules, assessment style and entry requirements – or something you won't get from the prospectus. 

"Most of the people on stands will be current students," says jonathanemptage. "They can give you a good impression of what the place is like."

Bear in mind that the most popular university stands can get busy, so you might have to queue for a few minutes. 

4. Make sure you speak to the right people to answer your questions

It's worth speaking to more than one person at each stand, so you can get information about different aspects of life at the university. After speaking to an admissiosn tutor about the course, you could speak to current students to hear about nightlife and the university's social events.

"The first thing is to ask the job of the person you speak to," says PQ. "If they’re a marketing person then they’ll only have a very limited knowledge of the courses and admissions. And if they’re a student then they’ll only have good knowledge of student life and their own course." 

5. Take a strong enough bag

You might end up with a big pile of prospectuses to take home, so bring a bag that's sturdy enough to carry them all. 

"Be selective with the prospectuses you pick up," says Origami Bullets. "If you get them all then you could be unable to walk under the weight of them all."

If you don't fancy carrying around all the prospectuses, a good alternative would be to ask the universities you're interested in to post or email you information instead. 

"If a university has a big, heavy prospectus then ask if they can post you a copy with more information instead of taking it and carrying around," says PQ. 

6. ...and don't be afraid to say no! 

Just because you're at the Ucas fair doesn't mean you have to engage with everything.

"If the uni isn't for you – whether it's the subject, grades or location – don’t be afraid to reject a prospectus and say you're not interested" says PQ. "They won't mind."

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