It’s Open Day season once again – that time of year when universities throughout the country open their doors to prospective students, advertising what’s on offer, trying to entice the brightest and best. 

Open Days, and their popularity, are a recent phenomenon.  Back in the last century they didn’t really feature.  Perhaps there were a few school visits at selected institutions, but it was certainly not the norm to have the full day large scale events that are now commonplace.  Another aspect is that, although these days are aimed at prospective students, almost as many parents now attend.

We run six Open Days annually, with the first this year scheduled on Saturday 8 July, and the full capacity of 12,000 visitors is registered.  The day is a chance for us to showcase the huge range of courses we offer, display our campus buildings and central student facilities, show what our University is about.   Central to that is introducing prospective students to our key assets – our staff and current students.

So how do we organise the Medicine Open Days?  Our base is in the foyer of Building 85, at Highfield Campus, with our Faculty Admissions team, armed with prospectuses and ready to answer the many queries – the most common being about academic requirements ( –  we still require 3 A grades at A level for our standard undergraduate course, including an A in Biology and that A in Chemistry, sacrosanct to medical schools throughout the land – what’s so special about an A in A level Chemistry?)

One of our senior academic staff delivers 3 or 4 talks throughout the day ( – to capacity audiences of 400 each time) outlining what it takes to make a great medical student and doctor, how our course aims to deliver this and the detail of our selection processes. Throughout the day a team of academic staff involved with the course is on hand to answer questions about our curriculum and course delivery.  We were the first med school in the country when we started over 40 years ago with a ‘systems based’ approach, but this has now been adopted by most others and so is no longer a USP.  Our students get early patient contact, benefit from a ‘research embedded’ course with extensive input from world-leading researchers, have varied clinical placements and are supported by great pastoral care. Our BM5 course has a unique student selected Medical Humanities unit, with opportunities for art and film and the bonus of all students gaining a BMedSc in addition to the BMBS within the 5 years.

Our current Southampton medical students are also out in force – able to talk about the realities of studying medicine here, advertise our great and wide-ranging MedSoc and extol the virtues of being part of the multidisciplinary University student community.

How we deliver our Open Days has evolved over the years.  We are now at capacity for visitor numbers; the day is hugely busy, with a real buzz to it.  Have you ideas about how we could and should improve these days for Medicine?  Would you like to be involved? Have you experience of university Open Days elsewhere? We have now more Medicine places to offer at Southampton than ever before – 261 places for entry in 2018/19.  How can we use our Open Days to best effect?  Please do let me know your views. (

University Open Days – how can we best use these for Medicine at Southampton?

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