DCU hosts its first ever virtual open day

DCU’s first ever virtual open day took place last week and attracted over 13,000 visitors coming from 23 different countries.

The event, which took place from June 17 to 19, was organised in order to give prospective students an idea of life in the university before the closing of CAO applications on July 1.

Jonny Cooper, a School Liaison Officer in DCU was a key part of the team that organised the open day. According to Cooper the three day event matched “DCU’s values of being innovative and creative.”

“We haven’t completed a task like this before and to the best of my knowledge no other Irish university has” said Cooper.

Across the three days prospective students as well as their parents and family members could get a feel for life in DCU through over 20 hours of live talks.

These talks included Student’s Perspective, where current or past students would talk about their experience of their course and DCU student life.

Similarly a section run by DCU’s Student Union (DCUSU) gave prospective students an insight into the non-academic side of student life, focusing on areas such as Clubs and Socs, sport and student supports.

As with open days in the past there were also taster lectures, however by doing them online it helped to give students an idea of what “the [university] experience would be like in a digital capacity” said Cooper.

“The key to [the open day] was doing everything live. So [students] wanted to talk and they wanted to hear people live but they also wanted to ask questions live.”

In order to allow time for students to engage and ask questions each half hour talk was divided equally between presentation and questions.

Cooper feels that this style of open day could be very promising for future events such as the November open days which usually see 9,000 students and their families visit DCU’s campuses over the two days.

This will most likely not be possible due to social distancing measures so therefore the virtual open days could “add a lot of value and bring a lot to the table” said Cooper.

Future virtual open days could also be helpful for international students, particularly those living in The United States who may not be able to travel to physical open days.

The format of the virtual open day also allows DCU to remain connected with students in a “personable way” unlike previous open days where the university has no contact with the students that attend.

However, if future virtual open days do go ahead it is essential that DCU looks at providing a broader range of course presentations.

“From a time point of view, you know in DCU there’s 68 different courses” explained Jonny and he acknowledged that “broadening it out” is essential so as to allow for all student’s interests.

Aoibhín Meghen

Image Credit: Johnathan Lynam