Guidelines for hosting a Freshers' Event

Guidelines for hosting a Freshers' Event

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Birmingham Freshers' Event

Mandatory guidelines

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Alumni Engagement team, in consultation with the Colleges, Cambridge Admissions Office and the Networks and Volunteers Working Group, is implementing new mandatory guidelines for this year's Freshers' Events.

For your event to be registered and supported by the Collegiate University, it must meet all the following criteria:

  1. Your event must take place via an online platform, such as Zoom. In order to help ensure the safety of students and alumni, in-person events are not permissible.
  2. Your event must take place in September to give us sufficient time to register and promote it. It will not be possible to hold an event in August.
  3. Your event must be structured and should last no longer than 1-hour. Please familiarise yourself with our suggested itinerary.
  4. There must be at least one (but preferably more) current student or recent graduate volunteers in attendance at your event.
  5. Alumni and current students attending the event must sign-post attendees to their respective College Admissions or Tutorial teams for information about what the forthcoming academic year will look like during the coronavirus pandemic. Please do not attempt to provide such information yourselves due to the high-risk of misinformation being communicated to attendees.
  6. If your Group intends to keep in touch with attendees after the event, you must provide each attendee with the Group's data protection statement (or a link to the statement online) and obtain each attendee's written consent before you can do so.
  7. You must not charge students to attend your event.

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How to run an online event

Organisers are encouraged to attend our online training session for Alumni Groups on how to run digital events, which is at 2.30pm, on Tuesday 11 August. For further information and to register your place, please visit the event web page.

Please familiarise yourself with the following guidelines:

With thanks to Sally Dore of the Bristol and Bath group of Cambridge Alumni for writing and sharing the 'Guide to planning a virtual quiz'.

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How to get started

  1. Recruit the help of one or two Group members - ideally recent graduates.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the guidelines on this page, the key dates and the resources available to organisers.
  3. Register to attend the digital events training session on Tuesday 11 August.
  4. Select a date in September and a time for your event (maximum 1-hour).
  5. Choose an online platform, set up an account and set up your event on the platform.
  6. Work out an itinerary for the event.
  7. Decide how you'd like to manage bookings.
  8. Submit an event registration form on or before Wednesday 19 August.
  9. Promote your event.
  10. Recruit some current student and recent graduate volunteers to attend your event and share their experiences of Cambridge.
  11. Administer any bookings for your event and provide attendees with the log in details.
  12. Prepare a short welcome speech.
  13. Brief your volunteers/speakers.
  14. Prepare your attendee regstration form and familiarise yourself with data protection guidelines.
  15. Host the event.
  16. Submit your attendee regstration form within two weeks of the event.
  17. Complete the event follow-up survey.
  18. Keep in touch with attendees and volunteers.

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Organisers are offered a number of resources to support you in the running of your Freshers' Events.

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Joint Cambridge and Oxford events

If you are an organiser of a joint Cambridge and Oxford Group, you will need to register your event with the alumni teams at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities and follow their respective timelines and processes in relation to running your event. Please contact the alumni teams at Cambridge and/or Oxford with any questions.

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Why not team up with another Alumni Group in your region or country to co-host the event? Co-hosting offers several advantages, including:

  • Shared resources
  • Increased event publicity
  • Offering a more diverse perspective of Cambridge to those attending
  • Building useful collaborations

You are welcome to contact the Alumni Engagement team to discuss co-hosting.

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Attendee numbers

Please be assured that there is no ideal number of attendees to aim for and you should not feel disheartened if only a few students turn up. Last year’s attendance levels varied considerably across events, with numbers ranging from one to over 200 attendees. This year is different in that we have not hosted Freshers' Events online before and do not know how many attendees to expect. You might find it helpful to check the incoming student numbers for your Group's area for an approximate potential attendance level for your event.

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Who can attend your event?

Decide who the event is open to. For example, can both undergraduates and postgraduate students attend it? Would you prefer only new students from your Group's region or country to attend the event, or is it open to all new students, regardless of their location?

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Event date

The coronavirus has caused delays to Freshers' Events programming, therefore please schedule your event to take place in September. We are not registering events in August this year because there would be insufficient time to promote them.

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Event duration

Please keep the event duration to a maximum of 45-60 minutes. It is far more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to an in-person event, where they have other stimuli and the ability to experience presentations in a three-dimensional environment.

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Please give your Freshers’ Event a structured format. You could, for example, include some brief presentations, hold a question and answer session and help attendees to mingle in breakout rooms.

A suggested itinerary for a 55-minute event is presented below and can be amended to suit your event. Online events should last for no longer than 1-hour.

  • (5 minutes) - Welcome by the Group President
  • (10 minutes) - Brief introduction from each attendee (name, home town, College, course)
  • (5 minutes) – Presentation by a current student or recent graduate: ‘5 things I love(d) about Cambridge’
  • (5 minutes) – Presentation by a current student or recent graduate: '5 tips for preparing for university’
  • (5 minutes) – Presentation by a current student or recent graduate: ‘5 things I wish I’d known when I started university’
  • (20 minutes) – Question and answer session or an informal networking session using breakout rooms
  • (5 minutes) – Event close by the Group President

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Managing bookings

Options for taking bookings
Attendees will expect to book a place online (as opposed to by post or telephone) via a quick and simple process. There are several options available; please indicate your preference on your event registration form:

  • Using Development and Alumni Relations’ free online booking system (available only to Groups that have: (i) signed the Memorandum of Understanding, (ii) signed the Data Sharing Agreement, and (iii) published their Data Protection Statement online)
  • Using an event management platform, such as Eventbrite (charges might apply)
  • Using the Group’s online booking form
  • Having students email the event organiser

A note about deadlines, cancellations and no-shows
Please bear in mind that many students prefer to make last-minute bookings. It is also likely that there will be some short notice cancellations and no-shows. We appreciate this presents numerous challenges for event organisers and our recommendations are:

  • Avoid having a booking deadline
  • Accommodate last-minute bookings
  • Anticipate last-minute cancellations and no-shows

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Data protection and written consent

If your Group intends to keep in touch with attendees after the event, you must provide each attendee with the Group's data protection statement (or a link to the statement online) and obtain each attendee's written consent before you can do so. We suggest you do this at the time they make a booking for your event.

Information about data protection is published at the bottom of the Run a Group page.

Groups based in the European Economic Area (EEA): European data protection legislation requires that your Group obtains and holds records of written consent from your Freshers' Event attendees to receive electronic direct marketing from the Group. 

Groups based outside the EEA: if you intend to keep in contact with attendees after the event, you should observe the data protection legislation for your area.

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Please contact the Alumni Engagement team for advice on funding a subscription to an online platform, such as Zoom.

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    Current student volunteers

    A mandatory requirement of Freshers' Events this year is the participation of at least one current student or recent graduate, but preferably more. Please read the Volunteer recruitment page for guidance on recruiting such volunteers to help out at the event.

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    Welcome speech

    Please prepare a five-minute welcome speech to deliver at the start of the event. Some suggested points to include are listed below:

    • Introduce yourself as well as any other speakers
    • Congratulations and welcome. Start of an exciting journey
    • Ordinarily would have met in person and told you what to expect this term. However, there is still value in having an online event
    • State the purpose of the event (to meet other new starters) and run through the itinerary
    • Housekeeping (e.g. instructions for technical problems, questions, mute/unmute, etc.)
    • Promote the Alumni Groups network as a resource for students
    • Highlight the Group’s student engagement activities
    • Promote the Group’s equivalent student society in Cambridge
    • Ask attendees to introduce themselves briefly in turn, providing their name, home town, College and course

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