30 November 2020
4 virtual event ideas for universities

With the world still mostly online, we wanted to share some virtual event ideas to help you continue to attract and engage prospective students.

The aim of these virtual events is to connect with your students and create a sense of belonging – providing them reassurance and guidance on their Higher Education journey. That’s peer to peer in action, so making these events digital is a great way to get started with online peer to peer. 

Virtual event ideas that deliver a great experience

When done well, virtual events still deliver a great experience – and offer even more that isn’t available offline: more depth and breadth of information, a truly personalised experience and a record of those important conversations.

And, it’s completely accessible. Unlike a traditional event which attracts anyone from within travel distance, a virtual event can bring in students from across the world – including countries you may never have recruited from before. 

The other advantage of going digital is the ability to provide a more personalised experience. While large-scale visit days make for a great experience, students can be overwhelmed with information and experiences – much of which is not relevant for them. In fact, the University of Exeter was able to attract eight times as many students to their virtual events as they were to in-person events.

So – with that in mind – here are some virtual event ideas you can run to start taking peer to peer online, and how you can run them. 

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Choosing a peer to peer platform – the ultimate guide to virtual events and getting your ambassadors online

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1. Course Q&As

Course Q&As are a great opportunity to get your future students online with a lecturer or course convenor for an informal chat about what to expect when they start.

These events take around half an hour to set up, and can run for anything from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. It could be a good idea to invite a lecturer to livestream, and answer student questions in real time, to really add a personal touch.

As with all events, having current student ambassadors in the chat will only add to it. Not only can they answer enquiries with real experiences – but they can also keep the chat going or help build student confidence if they’re a bit quiet to start with.

2. Drop-in sessions

Drop-in sessions are a great way to create an informal event that your students will really benefit from. You can set one up in less than 10 minutes, and easily duplicate it so you can run it weekly or monthly.

Almost like a virtual office hour, you can run these drop-in sessions on anything from accommodation, to course, to health on campus. Students can, as the name suggests, pop in to ask their question and get an answer and it can be easily managed by even just one member of staff.

3. Group chats

Your students are going to set up group chats on Facebook – they want to find their future coursemates, get reassurance from others in the same situation as them, and start getting ahead of the curve when it comes to making friends!

There’s no reason to try and stop those groups and group chats, but by adding an official channel you can make sure they are meeting their cohort, their teaching staff and current students in a way that is safe, and where you can make sure the information being exchanged is accurate. Nobody will end up buying a £300 textbook they didn’t really need.

The advantage of Unibuddy Live is that you can organise events that run for weeks and months. That means you can start a Live event and just keep it running until term starts, for students to drop in and out of.

4. Virtual campus tours

There are lots of virtual campus tour solutions out there, from 360 tours to interactive videos. Unibuddy Live is not that. But it does focus the attention on what the real benefit of a campus tour is: the chance to speak to a current student.

Get a student set-up in their student accommodation with Unibuddy Live videostreaming, and they can share their experience of accommodation. Then, you can easily cut to another student streaming from the library.

All you need to stream live video is a laptop and an internet connection, so if students can move around there’s no reason a more traditional campus tour wouldn’t be possible.

But – the most important aspect of this is the fact that it’s live. You can have other students in the chat answering questions in real time, or engaging students further in the virtual tour.

Our brand new guide to choosing a peer to peer platform contains even more ideas for virtual event ideas, as well as detailed advice on how to set them up and real case studies from universities that have run them. Download your free copy here!

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