Why attend a university fair? | Top Universities

Why attend a university fair?

By Jane Playdon

Updated July 28, 2023 Updated July 28, 2023

What are the benefits of attending an education fair when choosing which courses to apply to? Some may seem obvious, but to get a fuller understanding of the experience, I attended a QS event in London.

I was joined by almost 1,000 prospective master’s and PhD students, who were busy speaking to representatives from more than 80 top international universities and graduate schools, on hand to help candidates find their ideal graduate program.

The popularity of QS events (split into three types: QS Discover, QS ConnectQS Apply) points to the distinct advantages of attending an education fair instead of just researching options online. To give a better idea of what to expect, here’s what some attendees had to say about the benefits of attending the fair…

Meet universities face-to-face

The chance to meet universities face-to-face, by interacting with official representatives and alumni, is a key benefit of university events such as those run by QS, and the scrums that formed around some of the institutions’ tables reflected this.

Students spoke about the appeal of getting immediate personalised responses to questions, finding out more about the programmes and funding opportunities on offer, and getting an idea of the application process – all reasons to attend in person, rather than just stick to online research.

Molly Jack, a prospective PhD candidate who is keen to pursue research in the field of sustainability, said: “I’m looking at a wide range of universities, and I’m hoping to get feedback from them and if possible get sponsorship to help carry on my career.”

Find out what university admissions officers want

Attending an education event is also an opportunity to get a better idea of what university admissions officers are looking for – and a chance to start impressing them by showing you have the right qualities. Among the university representatives I spoke to, attributes such as determination, passion and focus were named among the most important.

Luke Parry, who works in business development at the UK’s University of Law, said: “Law is difficult… At the end of the day you really need to want it and to have that interest and passion.”

Sophie Martin, postgraduate student advisor at London South Bank University, said they look for “someone that’s focused, because obviously they’re the easiest to help and you can find things that are most appropriate for them… someone with a vision of what they want to do after they start studying, because that can also assist the advisory process, and just someone with enthusiasm and focus, because at this level, postgraduate level, that’s really what you would expect from a candidate.”

Work experience can also be a key factor for many institutions when recruiting for certain postgraduate courses. Daniel Guth, postgraduate recruitment officer at Cardiff University for the UK and the EU market, said: “If you don’t have a 2.1 undergraduate degree but have shown in your work experience that you are able to perform well, then we will consider that. It’s flexible, dependent on the programme that we are looking at.”

Attend seminars and presentations

As well as speaking to the university representatives, students can also benefit from the combined knowledge of several expert speakers on a particular topic, by attending some of the seminars and presentations that are a feature of education events like the ones run by QS.

On this occasion, one of the seminars was about understanding the PhD application process, with presenters from University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and the University of Melbourne – perfect for students like Shazmin Motiwala, a King’s College London graduate who was unsure whether to do a research-based master’s degree or go directly for a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences. When asked what she hoped to get out of the event, she said that she wants “to understand the application process better [and to get] exposure to different universities”.

There was also a Law Forum seminar with presenters from King’s College London and Queen Mary University London, a panel discussion between alumni from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and a presentation on studying in the US.

Apply for scholarships, exclusive to QS event attendees

Finally, a common theme among most of the education fair attendees was the importance of finding out about funding opportunities. The good news for anyone attending a QS event is that all attendees are eligible to apply for QS Impact scholarships, exclusively available to fair attendees, worth a total of US$1.2 million.

The application process varies dependent on the scholarship, so check the QS scholarships hub for details.


What are the benefits of attending education fairs?

Attending a QS event provides you with the opportunity to engage with university admissions staff in-person, learning more about institutions you are interested in and getting any questions about the admissions requirements answered. It's also a fantastic way to discover some universities which you might not have otherwise considered.

What documents do I need to bring to an education fair?

QS event attendees are encouraged to prepare some questions in advance to ask institutions so that you make the most of your interactions. Beyond that, there's no need to bring any documentation. Download our QS Events App, which features profiles of the participating universities, the latest agenda, and scholarship information. 

What questions should I ask at a study abroad fair?

Read our list of every important question to ask at a university fair.

Why should I attend a QS Discover event?

QS Discover events are large-scale student recruitment fairs, featuring dozens of institutions from around the world that are looking to recruit international students from your location. Use these events to meet representatives from these institutions and get answers to any questions you have about their programmes.

Why should I attend a QS Connect event?

QS Connect events feature pre-matched counselling conversations between eligible students and university representatives. Attending provides you with the opportunity to go deeper and benefit from exclusive interactions with universities which are right for you.

How do I register for a QS event?

All event information can be found on our website. QS events have limited spaces so it's important to register in advance. Plus, you have the opportunity for personal VIP meetings with the universities you're interested in. Share your CV with us beforehand and our team of experts will send you your personalised schedule of meetings for the day.

This article was originally published in October 2013 . It was last updated in July 2023

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