Each year tens of thousands of people descend on university towns for open days. The high price of train fares (a return trip from the North to the South can cost up to £300 per person), leaves students unable to attend the open days. Whilst coach travel is cheaper, it’s a lot slower, leaving parents and children having to pay for overnight accommodation. Students don’t want to apply to a university blind, so they rule out universities based on how much travel will cost and how far away they are.
In June 2019 the Social Mobility Commission and Sutton Trust released a joint report on social diversity in the UK. Just 7% of the public are privately educated, yet they account for 39% of the elite. Students from private schools often do not have to worry about travel costs, and are free to visit whichever universities they’re interested in. For state school pupils this is another barrier for them to overcome.
We’ve compiled a list of universities that offer financial support for students attending open days, applicant days, and interview days. This will be updated, but check with each university for any changes in policies/availability.
Open Day Travel Bursary
Lots of universities offer bursaries to help students attend open days before applying to university.
Please note these may not be available in Summer/Autumn 2020 as universities move towards online events due to COVID-19.
The bursary refunds standard rail/coach travel for students and up to two guests, or refund mileage for car travel. The bursary is available to students who live in an area where university progression is low.
Cambridge offer a travel fund for prospective applicants who've been in care.
The travel bursary is available for students travelling to one of the undergraduate pre-application open days. A maximum of £100 per prospective undergraduate student can be claimed. In order to claim the bursary students must meet financial or social care criteria.
UEA offer a travel fund for students who’d like to attend open days, enrichment events, student shadowing days, applicant days, and interview days. In order to qualify students must meet certain financial or social criteria.
Travel assistance is available for prospective applicants travelling over 20 miles to the university. The travel fund varies depending on the distance travelled. This is available for all students regardless of financial circumstances.
Open day attendees can claim up to £50 back for travel expenses.
Open day funding is available for UK prospective applicants who would otherwise be unable to attend the Oxford Open Day.
Open day funding of up to £150 is available for those attending an open day. It's calculated by the number of miles travelled.
The travel bursary is available to students who have not accepted a place at Plymouth or have not registered to start their course yet. You can claim up to £80 towards the cost of travel. This amount varies depending on how far you’re travelling.
The Widening Participation Travel Bursary covers reasonable travel costs via public transport for qualifying individuals. Queen Mary are holding online open days at present so the bursary is unavailable.
Open day travel bursary is for undergraduate students aged under 25 who are either from a care background, are a carer, or are estranged from their parents.
A travel bursary is available for prospective students travelling to an open day when they live more than 20 miles away from the university.
Open Day Accommodation
Hull offer free accommodation for prospective students travelling from over 70 miles away. A maximum of four rooms are available per party, and you will receive a complimentary breakfast (on their July 6th Open Day). Check their website for updates.
Lots of colleges offer free accommodation for prospective applicants travelling considerable distances to the open day. Criteria varies depending on the college. Some colleges allow teachers to stay for free, some parents/guardians at a lower rate, some offer free breakfast and dinner.
Students visiting an open day can stay in university accomodation the night before for £15.50
Students can stay overnight for free the night before the applicant open day and the night of the open day. Attendees plus one parent/guardian can stay on campus for free with bed and breakfast included.
Interview Open Days
If your course requires an interview, some universities offer financial assistance to help you attend.
A travel bursary is available for students attending an open evening, interview, or audition day. The bursary covers travel of up to 2 people totalling at maximum of £100. In order to qualify students must either be eligible for free school meals, have been in care, or are a young carer.
The travel bursary is available for individuals attending an interview/audition day at the University of Chester. The bursary covers travel costs for up to 2 people, up to a maximum of £100. Students must meet one of the following criteria: In order to qualify students must either be eligible for free school meals, have been in care, or are a young carer
Applicant Open Days
After you’ve applied to the university, universities will hold applicant open days. During these days the focus is on the course and mock lectures will take place. You’ll also have the opportunity to speak with your lecturers and other prospective students.
All attending applicants can claim a contribution of up to £75. This amount varies depending on how far you’ve travelled. Additional funding can be applied for if you’re a care leaver, young carer, or someone with no family support.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Applicant Day Travel Bursary is avliable for students for up to £100. In order to qualify you must be a home student living in the UK and be booked onto one of Marjon’s applicant days. You must meet additional criteria regarding finance or social care.
The University of West London offer financial support for care leavers who’re attending an applicant day.
Interview Open Days and Applicant Visit Days
University of Bath offer a travel bursary for applicants attending an undergraduate interview or applicant visit day. Students can claim a refund of up to £100. In order to be eligible you must be a UK Home applicant and have an household income of £25,000 or below. You must also meet additional criteria.
University of Bristol offer a travel bursary for students attending an interview or a post-offer visit day. In order to qualify students must have a household income of under £42,875.
The University of Essex offer a travel bursary for students travelling more than 30 miles to their applicant day. Students can apply for up to £100 assistance. This is avalible to everyone regardless of their income.
Students who’ve been invited to applicant open days or interview days can apply for the bursary up to a max of £300.
Reading also offer a pre-applicant bursary of up to £500 for disabled students who’re visiting the university before applying to Reading.
The University of Surrey offer a travel bursary of up to £40 for students attending interview/applicant days. In order to get the bursary students must satisfy criteria regarding finance or social care
Glasgow Caledonion University offer a bursary for students travelling more than 100 miles. Reinbursements vary depending on miles travelled, up to £100.
Booking your train tickets through their website gives you discounts.
De Monfort offer students 50% off railfares to their February 2020 open day.
West Midlands Railway have very kindly offered FREE tickets to students attending Worcester's open day.
This post is the first of our Social Mobility series, where we'll look at widening participation at universities.
All information was correct at the time of writing.