Welcoming new students to Oxford is all in a day’s work

The Oxford Times: Idonea Muggeridge Buy this photo Idonea Muggeridge

Idonea Muggeridge the deputy head of enquiries and marketing at the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach office at the University of Oxford describes her job

TOMORROW and on Thursday, the city of Oxford will be bursting at the seams. Trains will be packed, park and rides full, and the city’s infrastructure tested to its limit as Oxford welcomes thousands of prospective students and their parents for the university’s undergraduate open days.

As a member of the university’s Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach office, I’m one of those whose job it is to help make sure this operation goes as smoothly as possible.

That means coordinating events to be as helpful as possible to potential students and their families, while trying to minimise disruption to those living and working in the city and trying to go about their day as usual.

The open days are a year-long production: as soon as one year’s open day finishes, preparation for the next year begins.

There is a huge amount of work behind the scenes between the university, the city and county councils to ensure the city is as well equipped as possible to manage up to 10,000 extra eager teenagers and their parents.

This includes everything from ensuring extra buses are running to distributing about eight tonnes of publications to colleges and departments.

Everyone’s interests have to be balanced, and it’s really worth getting right.

The thought of coming to a university like Oxford can be pretty daunting, especially for pupils who know about the dreaming spires and Inspector Lewis but don’t know anyone who can tell them what it’s really like here as a student.

So it’s vital we provide a friendly, welcoming and above all, a really well-run experience to show these future students just what Oxford has to offer.

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That includes everything from talks on the nuts and bolts of each subject’s curriculum to sessions for parents on finance, tours of the colleges and maybe even some down time in the University Parks or lunch in the city centre.

Their days will be full.

Every undergraduate college and subject department runs events which give a taste of student life at Oxford.

There’s the always popular chemistry show where they can watch bubbles leaping on dry ice and hydrogen-filled balloons exploding, mobile robots at computer science and remote-controlled helicopters on display at the engineering department as well as mock admissions interviews demonstrated with current students.

Visitors can attend talks and lectures both by current students and the academics who one day might be teaching them.

But just as importantly, they need to get a feel for the place.

Oxford is a really special place to live and study and we want them to soak in its atmosphere and make this a day they will never forget for all the right reasons.

It’s busy work, but then choosing where to study is one of the most important decisions a young person can make.

We want them to make the right choice – and thoroughly enjoy themselves in the process.

So if you’re in town on an open day, I hope you’ll enjoy the noise, the bustle and the sense of liveliness even if your journey home takes a little longer or it’s harder to find a seat in the café among all the families hunched over their city maps and university guides.

It’s all part of this wonderful city’s heritage and future and what makes Oxford such an amazing place to live, study and work.

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