Bristol’s Freshers’ Fair will be an online-only event this year

There will be some in-person events with number caps

The 2020 Freshers’ Fair will be delivered online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing the annual event on the Clifton Downs, Bristol SU has confirmed.

They say they are taking a “blended approach” with Welcome events happening both online and in-person, with caps on numbers attending in-person events.

The initial program will be confirmed on A Level results day on the 13th of August, with more events to be confirmed “as it becomes clearer what is possible to be held in-person”.

Bristol University confirmed in May that lectures will be held online in the 2020/21 academic year, with some seminars to take place in small groups in person.

Welcome Fair 2020

Bristol SU has confirmed that the fair will take place virtually on the 7th of October 2020, with the fair remaining available online for 1 month.

The platform VFairs will be used, and clubs and societies will be able to upload documents, and interact with students using text, audio, and video chat.

The SU has confirmed that “commercial stallholders” will still be at the event with much-coveted freebies and discount codes, as is tradition at Freshers’ Fairs.

(ABOVE: A sales video from VFairs showing how their platform works)

Julio Mkok, Union Affairs Officer at Bristol SU, insists that societies will be the focus of the Welcome Fair.

He said: “Our student groups are usually front and centre with the Welcome Fair and Give it a Go activities and this year will be no different!

“This year is the first time we’re holding events before students have even arrived which is really exciting. I can’t wait for the programme to go live!”

How will events work?

Welcome Week 2020 is being re-named “Welcome 2020”, and will last many weeks this year, rather than the traditional 1 week.

Virtual events will start earlier than usual, in August and September, which will then blend into in-person events (with caps on numbers) as students arrive on campus in a staggered fashion this year.

No more in-person displays of the Bristol spirit!

Details on events are currently limited, but the SU has said that some events will be held in-person, although there will be severe caps on numbers.

The annual “Give it a Go” activities, that give students the chance to try out clubs and societies before joining, will be confirmed after the 13th of August when government guidance is clearer on what can be held in-person.

Further details will be released from A Level results day on August 13th.

How have student societies reacted?

Student societies and clubs were informed of the change on Tuesday afternoon ahead of today’s announcement, and so far the reaction has been positive.

Jude D’Alesio, Chairman of the Bristol Uni Conservative Association said: “Given the circumstances, BUCA is satisfied with the SU’s alternative arrangements for this year’s freshers fair. Although we would love to meet new students in person, there will be plenty of opportunities for this in our social events at the beginning of the year, but we hope that the virtual freshers fair will serve as a positive introduction to SU life.”

Sam Bakst of the Bristol Jewish Society said: “The plans for the Freshers’ Fair seem pretty good. It seems like they’re quite inclusive and it allows students who can’t get to Bristol to be provided for. It’s probably pretty good for social distancing and that kind of thing, and it seems that there will be a good structure. Given the situation, it’s not bad.”

What has the SU said?

Bristol SU has acknowledged that Freshers’ Week this year “will look different”, but insists that it will still be “fun”, despite the limited in-person events.

A Bristol SU spokesperson said: “Welcome Week will look different this year compared to previous welcome week event programmes and we’re still working out a lot of the detail. However, we’re working hard to make sure that what we deliver continues to be high-quality, engaging and fun. Its primary focus will be on connecting students to each other, building a sense of community and connection to the city and to replicate where possible all the aspects of Welcome Week that make it so amazing.

“We’ll be sharing more information in due course and encourage students to keep an eye on our channels as we reveal more about the official welcome week programme.”

You can sign up for Welcome 2020 updates from Bristol SU here.


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