With 'open day' season drawing to a close, colleges are welcoming prospective students and their families for the final time this year. As such, now is the time to encourage and influence those students who have not yet made the important decision of which institution to see them through the next stage in their education.

There has been a huge change in further education over recent years, with technology now an integral part of everything from marketing and administration to examinations and learning but it is yet to fully influence open days. Instead, open days see prospective students (with a growing entourage of family members) taken around each department, being pushed around like cattle. It is very much a physical experience. However, this isn't necessarily the most effective way to show students what the culture is like – or the type of experience that they can expect.

There is currently a stark contrast between a college open day and that of a university. The highly commercial UK university market, with its ever-increasing fees, is working hard to get students through the door. UK universities are getting smart by adapting their recruitment efforts and offering personalised survival packs and a festival-type atmosphere, engaging prospective students in a rich experience and giving them a real taste of campus life. Normally set in the summer months, these events are often led by student ambassadors who have been especially chosen to give rich peer-to-peer reviews and help inspire and direct decision making.

Across the pond, the US market is going one step further, with community and junior colleges offering an especially memorable experience, with each campus a destination for local communities. Celebrations are held in full Mardi Gras swing, complete with parades and heaps of energy. Students are treated to a full day of events, and can choose which parts of campus they'd like to visit.

In contrast, UK colleges usually host open evenings, generally held in the winter months, with half the departments closed. These are hardly engaging environments, and can't really answer the key question of potential: "will this institution provide enough value for my time?"

The University of London provides the perfect example of an institution that is adapting to today's digital world. The university launched a successful social media campaign that was designed to entice and engage its prospective students with a fun competition. As they wandered around campus, students had to find their name card and then take a 'selfie' in front of it for a chance to win a prize. This highly interactive event created an infectious environment and engaging experience for students – and was therefore far more effective than simply filling their heads with talk of success rates and facilities.

I have worked with other institutions to develop personalised apps in order to interact with prospects more effectively. This is highly engaging and very easy to organise, yet when we looked, only 20% of universities were using an app for this purpose and, to our knowledge, no colleges were using them at all (happy to be corrected).
We're currently working with leading UK institutions to enable visitors to travel around campus with just their mobile device as their guide – using Information Advice & Guidance (IAG) – for interactive tours that provide them with a rich sample of the campus experience.

Apps of this kind have been created to create a more 'community' feel, and are enriched with information, advice and guidance about courses tailored to each student. Something known as 'beacon technology' even allows physical proximity to be measured, which means that a prospect's phone will ping when nearing a relevant part of campus, and also provide some relevant advice and guidance along the way. The system is designed to get the most relevant information to the right person at the right time at the right location.

So are UK college open day events still relevant?

In my view further education institutions need to work smarter and harder to lure in new prospects by thinking of innovative ways to show off the facilities they offer. The latest technological advancements are helping to improve every aspect of the education system. I would love to see more colleges innovate through the challenge to showcase the excellence FE offers.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is head of education at Portal, the education technology consultancy

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page