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Virtual open days

With the University of Bolton


The global coronavirus pandemic has brought with it unprecedented challenges for university recruitment and admissions teams, particularly when it comes to open days, which are still a vital part of a prospective student's decision-making process.

The University of Bolton decided to switch their March 2020 open day to an online event and used TAP to help make it a success.

1,174 messages were exchanged on TAP during the virtual open day


The challenge

Following campus closures and event cancellations due to Covid-19, universities across the world face serious challenges when trying to engage and build relationships with prospective students.

Recruiting students for the September 2020 enrolment period was still a critical priority, and with staff suddenly having to work remotely, the University of Bolton moved quickly to host their open days online.

Taking advantage of TAP’s offer of free additional accounts to help with communications during the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Bolton created a new page on their website called Chat to our Staff, in addition to their existing Chat to our Students page.

From taking the decision on Tuesday 17 March 2020 the University of Bolton had selected, trained, and set up 69 staff members ready for the first open day at 9am on Saturday 21 March 2020. This was all done in just three days.

More than 500 open day registrants were invited via email to attend the virtual open day and have the opportunity to speak to a wide range of student ambassadors and staff members.

The virtual open day ran for four hours, from 9am-1pm, on Saturday 21 March 2020.


Over the course of the virtual open day 45 prospective students from 14 different countries around the world took part in 79 conversations with student ambassadors and members of staff. A total of 1,174 messages were exchanged on TAP during the virtual open day.

Staff and student ambassadors were asked to be online during this time period, ready to reply to messages they received. This lead to a median response time of 3 minutes 38 seconds. The top three conversation topics were course information, admissions, and careers. Where students or staff were not best placed to answer the questions they received they were able to invite other colleagues into the conversation to assist the prospective student and ensure they received the information they needed.

There is now a digital link established with these prospective students allowing for personal and ongoing conversations to continue over the spring and summer via TAP. The conversations they had during the virtual open day are only the start.

“TAP was our immediate go-to when thinking about how to take our open day online, and quickly. We didn’t want to let visitors down by completely cancelling so we tried to replicate the opportunity to talk to our staff as closely as possible. We were already using TAP for engagement with current students so this was an easy fit for us. Staff found the platform extremely easy to use. We are looking to take the platform even further now”.

Paul Starkey
Director of Student Rectuitment and Admissions
University of Bolton

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