The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Events for prospective students

This page has suggestions for a number of different possible events that can be run for prospective students. These can be tailored for your specific courses/needs and for the types of students attending the events.

Year 12 conference

A year 12 conference, if timed right, can be very effective for recruiting students to economics degrees. Most school students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have finished their AS levels by the mid June and have started on their A2 studies. Students in Scotland have finished their Highers at a similar time.

A conference at the end of June/beginning of July is an ideal way of (a) introducing students to their A2 or Advanced Highers studies, (b) providing an interesting event that is a break away from school, (c) making economics an attractive choice for university at a time when students are thinking about their degree choice, and will be filling in their UCAS forms in a couple of months.

The conference could be run by a particular university Economics Department, or as a general year 12 conference run by a university, with part devoted to subject-specific content (e.g. parallel session), or as a regional conference hosted by two or more universities and/or schools.

Ideas for content

Content must be seen as both relevant to A2 / Advanced Highers and interesting to students (and probably teachers too). The following have been found to be popular at various year 12 conferences that have been run:

  • An overview of the world economy: setting the scene for some of the issues to be covered in year 13. Such an event could be made more lively by incorporating a quiz or some other forms of interaction with the students.
  • An exploration of some Web sites that are useful for year 13 and an exploration of uses that can be made of the Web.
  • A talk by an A-level examiner. This could cover study and revision tips, the sorts of things that examiners are looking for and possibly some anecdotes about 'poor' exam practice. This could include a question and answer session with students asked in advance to bring questions with them.
  • A panel discussion, perhaps based in the format of the BBC's Question Time programme. This could be on an A-level topic or topics, or it could be related to study skills
  • A session about studying economics at university and the benefits of an economics degree in the job market. For example you could give data on graduate salaries.
  • A game that students can play. This would be ideal in an all-day programme, where some or all of the above could occupy the morning and the game could take place in the afternoon. (Examples of suitable games)
  • Talks by or a question-and-answer session with university students. Many universities employ students as ambassadors for this purpose. The year 12 students could be split into groups of up to 10 with one ambassador per group. The ambassadors could incorporate a tour of the site if the event was held in a university.
  • A separate event for teachers. This would be especially useful if you plan to hold a year 12 conference each year and want to keep the programme much the same. You could run a parallel session for teachers. This could be set of updating sessions by economics lecturers on topics relevant to A2.

To find a list of schools in your region, try the Schools Interchange site at the following:

The Offsted site also lists schools with contact addresses (and Ofsted reports)

Ofsted site, schools inspection reports section

Open days for applicants

Most universities have open days for students who have applied or are thinking of applying for places. Some of these are organised by departments and some centrally by universities. Many universities are very experienced in running such events, which are listed at University and college open days. Most departments, however, would see recruitment as a zero sum game within their subject.

The concern of this site is how to attract and recruit more students to economics and not how to compete more effectively with other economics departments. The question being addressed here, therefore, is how to use such events to increase the total numbers of economics students.

One possibility is to use open days before students submit their UCAS forms by targeting such events at year 12 or more broadly to the community to attract mature and other non-standard-entry students. The use of short games, meetings with current undergraduates, general talks on the economy and the role of economists, information on job opportunities as economists and the salary premiums that can be earned are all examples of things that can increase the number of students applying to read economics.

The main way in which open days for those who have already applied can increase the total number of students is if these days contribute to a higher A-level pass rate. Clearly motivation is one important aspect here, and events that promote university life and life as an economics student could possibly help to increase the rate of conversion of applicants into undergraduates. Another way that an open day could improve conversion rates is by having as part of the event a session from an A-level economics examiner on study, revision and examination skills.

Events held in schools

A potentially very effective, if possibly time-consuming, type of event is to visit individual schools. The staff costs of such events could be reduced by targeting specific schools, either those with large years 12 and 13 or those with a low participation rates in HE, where the event could promote HE generally as well as economics in particular.

Clearly economies of scale can be gained if the same person does several such visits, and allocating some timetable relief and administrative support may help to instil a departmental commitment to such events.

Events in an economics class

Events could be held within a class, typically an AS Economics class or an A2 Economics class at the very end of year 12 or very beginning of year 13 (i.e. before UCAS forms are submitted). Negotiating with individual A-level Economics teachers will clearly be necessary. A talk on a particular part of the A-level syllabus or running some game, simulation or experiment could be offered in return for a brief slot in such an event for promoting the university's economics courses as well as the benefits of studying an economics degree in general.

The teacher might be very happy to have a university lecturer come to talk to the AS Economics students about the benefits of studying an economics degree. This might help the teacher promote A2 Economics for these students who are uncertain about whether to continue with economics beyond AS. A question-and-answer session could help to make such an event more lively and address any concerns the school students might have about studying economics at university. Such a session could be more effective if the lecturer is accompanied on such as visit by a current undergraduate who can also answer questions.

Events for the whole sixth form

Alternatively a talk or an activity could be for the whole of the year at some type of 'sixth-form' event. Sometimes schools have a dedicated day or evening where universities are invited to set up a stall or address the students. Other schools have visiting speakers and it might be possible to tap into this series. Such events could be used to promote economics to students not studying it at A-level as well as to those who are.

Use of student ambassadors to schools

Several universities use current undergraduates as ambassadors. This may involve their being available to talk to school students when they come to visit the university. It may also or alternatively involve visiting schools to talk to or work with school students.

Clearly, the more economics undergraduates can work with school students of economics or with school students thinking of studying economics (perhaps currently in year 11), the more likely this is to translate into applications for economics degrees.

If your university currently has such a scheme, it is worth examining it to see how it can best be used to promote economics (if that is your aim).

Student ambassadors can often work alongside lecturers or administrators on School Visits and Open Days.