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Open, Applicant, Offer Holder and Interview Days… what are they and what’s the difference?


If you’ve applied for our £40 Higher Education Travel Card to help towards to cost of visiting a higher education provider you’ll have seen that we state it can be used for Open Days or Applicant Days and various other visits… but what are these events? Read this post to find out.

What is an Open Day?

Open days are organised by universities and colleges throughout the year to give you the chance to visit and experience higher education (HE) first hand. They can help you to make decisions about what and where you’d like to study and can offer more of an insight into a university or college, course or indeed area than a prospectus can.

Open Days are a brilliant opportunity to experience university life first-hand. Lots of talks will be going on throughout the day, like presentations on courses and subject areas. These are a really good way to find out more about studying your chosen subject, or you might get inspired by something totally new! Student Housing and Student Finance talks mean you can start figuring out how it all works, and you’ll be able to look around the different halls of residence to get a feel for campus living. Most universities offer a full campus tour, guided by the students who know it best. For more advice about how navigate and make the most out of Open days visit:

Opendays.com – How to make the most of an Open Day

Whatuni.com – Research and prep for Open Days

NSSW – Search Open Days across the UK

You’ve done the Open Days, shortlisted the universities and colleges, submitted the UCAS applications… What next?
Once you receive an offer from your chosen universities/colleges (the five institutions that you applied to via UCAS), you will likely be invited to an Applicant, or sometimes called Offer Holder Day, via email.

What is an Applicant or Offer Holder Day?

An Applicant or Offer Holder Day is a daylong event where you can visit a HE provider and delve deeper into your chosen degree programme through a range of activities, alongside other students who have been given an offer to study on the same course as you. You’ll get to know your course a lot more and gain more of an idea of what to expect from living and studying at the university or college.

University Centre Somerset – Media Make-Up

These days give you the opportunity to visit the university or college campus again and learn more about your chosen degree from those who know about it best. Most Applicant or Offer Holder Days will consist of a tour, you’ll see the facilities and spaces that your chosen course takes place in. You’ll meet your potential lecturers and a few current students who will answer any questions you may have and give you a bit more of an insight into studying at that university.

Host-students.com – Applicant Days – what are they?

Do you have to attend Offer Holder Days?

No, it’s not compulsory to attend Applicant or Offer Holder events. However, they can be really valuable in helping you make decisions about which universities or colleges and courses should be your firm and insurance choices. You may find that some are online, which might make it easier for you to attend.

University of Plymouth’s Wave Pool

If you can attend, it’s strongly advised that you do!

  • So you can meet the actual teaching and support staff you’d be working with.
  • Visit the buildings and rooms you’ll be taught in, and see the facilities you’d have access to.
  • Attend subject-specific sessions where you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

All subjects will host their own talks and taster sessions – some may even run a facilities tour or a dedicated employability session.

Can I bring someone along to an Applicant or Offer Holder Day?

Yes. If you’re more comfortable bringing someone along to an offer holder event, then of course you can bring them.

Some people bring their parents or carers, some bring a partner, and some bring a friend. You are also welcome to visit independently.

Just make sure that when booking onto the event; you book on any guests too (it will be clear on the booking form how you can do this).

As most applicant or offer holders do bring parents along, some subjects offer a parents’ and carers’ session. These separate sessions also provide the perfect setting for your parents/carers to ask any questions they may have, and give you a chance to get chatting to your fellow offer holders if you so wish!

Read more about what an Applicant/Offer holder Day is at Newcastle University here – What are Offer Holder Days?

What if I’m asked to attend an interview?

Interviews and sometimes auditions are sometimes used by admissions staff at universities and colleges towards the end of the application process as a means of comparing applicants with a good chance of being offered places on their courses. They’re more likely to be held for creative or care-related programmes (medical courses), as well as for entry into Oxford and Cambridge. They may be online via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Prospects.ac.uk – Preparing for a university interview

Things you’ll need to consider are:

  • What you wrote in your personal statement
  • Know the specific course info
  • Plan some questions
  • Practice
  • Dress appropriately

Read more tips from Top universities.com – Top10 tips for university interview success…

More tips for interviews from Higher Education Outreach Network – Interview Day

Download our Interview/Applicant Day resource to help plan your next steps

Sometimes you asked be asked to bring a portfolio of work, this is a collection of examples and evidence showcasing your skills, personality and creative potential. Your portfolio should contain written and visual overviews of your pieces of work. It should also include an insight into skills you have, methods you’ve used or lessons you’ve learned.

University of the Arts London – Portfolio Advice

And don’t forget to apply for our £40 Higher Education Travel Card and download our 2023 Applicant Guide 

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