Universities have been hosting virtual events long before the pandemic. Greater reach, lower costs, and better analytics had many institutes hosting open days, housing fairs, job fairs and alumni reunions online. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the remaining universities pivoted to digital as well. Since then virtual events for universities are getting bigger and better every year. 

If you’d like to host a virtual event for your own university or college, you have come to the right place. We will walk through everything you need to know and do before hosting an online event. Let’s get started!

What are Virtual Events for Universities

Virtual events for universities are online events hosted by universities for their students, faculty, alumni, employees and community members. 

When you think of such events, webinars or live streaming of graduation ceremonies probably come to mind. However, that’s not even close to what these online events encompass. Going virtual opens up a whole new world of opportunities for colleges and universities. You can not only address a wider audience, but can also offer creative solutions to various concerns.

The best thing about a virtual event is that anyone should be able to attend one as long as they have a mobile phone and an internet connection. This allows widespread attendance and participation, especially if your audience isn’t limited to a single location.  

Types of Virtual Events for Universities


Are you wondering about the types of virtual events hosted by universities? Universities are not just home to academic experiences, but a hub of extra-curricular activities and cultural experiences. Many aim to help their students with job and housing search as well. So there is no one kind of an event a university will host. Each event has its own goals, audience, and end results. Here are some of the most frequent events hosted by universities using the vFairs platform:

Virtual Conference

A virtual conference can be anything from an academic symposium to a benefactor meeting. You should first consider what goal you have in mind, and then plan these conferences. They’ll include elements like speaker talks, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions. In addition, you can include an interactive exhibit hall to showcase programs, research, partners, etc.

Chat and networking features are a must for any virtual conference. These will promote conversations about the topic at hand in more informal settings and help your attendees build their network. 

Virtual Open Day

If you want to attract prospective students from all over the world, a virtual open day is your best bet. These events let you showcase your campus, faculty and departments in a concise manner to a global audience. In addition, potential students and their parents can get all the details they need about tuition fees, scholarships, campus life and accommodations. 

Many people may still be unsure about their university choices. If you want to be on their shortlist, an approachable open day may help you close the deal. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to host a virtual open day, check out Your Ultimate Guide To A High Engagement Virtual Open House.

Virtual Housing Fair

With this event, you can let students know about their on-campus and off-campus accommodation options. In addition, you can connect them with off-campus housing providers before they even arrive in your city. This makes things easier for incoming students based in different locations, and reduces your efforts as well. 

You can have various booths in the exhibit hall for different providers. This will let attendees explore their options and make a well-informed decision. You may even arrange virtual tours at this event for a more interactive experience. Furthermore, students and their parents can ask all the questions they want from your incoming students department and the providers you connect them with. 

Here is a A Step-By-Step Guide To Hosting A Successful Virtual Housing Fair that you can use if you need to help your students with their accommodation search. 

Virtual Graduation Ceremony

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many students had to shift to online classes abruptly. This also affected their upcoming graduation ceremonies. Seniors all over the world missed out on physical ceremonies. However, many universities held virtual commencement ceremonies instead. These allow your outgoing students to get the graduation experience, without having to be physically present. 

A virtual graduation ceremony is also ideal if you offer remote learning to your students. Now your remote students can be a part of graduation ceremonies that on-site students always get to experience. Offer features such as a photo booth, a scavenger hunt, a university shop, and serendipitous matchmaking to create a highly interactive graduation experience.

Virtual Job Fair

You obviously want your students and alumni to succeed in their careers. Your career assistance department can use virtual events to their advantage. A virtual career fair is just the ticket. It allows you to gather various companies in one place and have your students explore job opportunities and expand their network.

Often, companies may even shortlist and hire candidates at these events. You just need to offer a virtual booth, a searchable attendee database and interview features for this purpose. A successful virtual job fair will result in your students getting recruited.

Your Ultimate Guide To A University Virtual Job Fair can help you host the most impactful virtual job fair for your students.

Virtual Benefits Fair

Your faculty and staff probably have access to a wide range of benefits. In higher education, the people involved may have numerous subsidies, discounts, and insurance options to claim. However, they are often unaware of these benefits or how to choose the right ones. 

When you host a virtual benefits fair, you can brief them about providers and plans. Companies already hold these events for their employees, so you should utilize them for your community. Virtual benefits fairs are especially convenient if you have multiple campus locations and multiple providers. 

Host interactive info sessions with providers, offer a searchable provider database and let your employees talk with providers at their booths. 

Online Alumni Reunion Event

Alumni reunions are a time-honored tradition. However, many people cannot come to them due to various reasons. Whether there are travel restrictions in place, or they simply can’t afford to visit, your alumni will appreciate a virtual option. 

Such events are a great way to see how well your students have done for themselves. They also promote a strong alumni network, with ample job opportunities and other such advantages. So, let your students reconnect with each other with an online alumni reunion. 

Just remember to keep things engaging with live games and contests and features such as a social wall and a virtual photo booth!

Virtual Orientation Fair

Many universities have used vFairs to host their online orientation events. With online classes and international students, these are the best options. You can simply conduct all your ice-breaking and information-sharing activities in the virtual space. 

When you have a virtual orientation fair, you can have department booths, speaker sessions, and also open up networking opportunities. This way, students can get answers to their questions and resources they need to kickstart their university experience. In addition, they can talk to each other and create connections. This is very helpful, especially when these students have online classes together. 

Other Virtual Events in the Education Sector


The above options are definitely not the only kinds of virtual events in the education sector. Here are some others that come to mind:

  • Virtual resource fair
  • Club-based virtual events
  • Virtual fundraising fair
  • Virtual capstone
  • Virtual hackathon
  • Virtual student gala night
  • Virtual networking event

All of these events are especially useful in bringing a dispersed student body together. If you have students spread across the city or states or even across the globe, these events will help you reach and connect everyone. 

In addition, the virtual space lets you experiment with your event options. You simply have to see what sort of event you’d like to hold. Then, you can work with your virtual event platform provider to carry out these events online. With the right provider and event features, you can offer students as complete an experience as possible. 

To sum up, there is almost no limit to what you can do with virtual events. You simply need to do your research and make your plans properly. Then, you’ll find the right sort of opportunities for excellent, interactive events. 

If you are a high school that wants to help students with their college search, check out the Virtual College Fair 2021: The Ultimate Guide.

Are Virtual Events Worth it?

Are you on the fence about hosting an online event for your institute? A lot of people aren’t familiar with the many benefits of hosting an event in virtual space. Here are some of the advantages which make hosting a university virtual event well worth it. 

International Participation

Universities are usually quite diverse and have students from all over the world. This means that if students or alumni are in their home countries, they can’t attend physical events. Therefore, virtual events make things easier and allow global participation. This means that you can cater to your international students and alumni as well as your local ones. 

This international participation will let you capture as wide an audience as possible. Even when you host a virtual open day, you have the opportunity to attract a larger, more diverse set of applications. This allows you to get the best applications possible from all over the world. In addition, you will also be able to accommodate significantly more people than you could at a physical venue. 

Apart from a wider audience, you can also reach out to more speakers and exhibitors. Physical events can take a long time to plan, especially if your guests and speakers have to fly in from other states or countries. They might have full schedules and may not not be able to commit to your event. If you go virtual, this concern goes out the window. You simply need a set amount of their time, with no logistics, travel, or accommodations required. 


This is a major plus point for virtual college events. When you host an in-person event, you have to think about numerous aspects. You have to pay venue costs, set-up expenses, signage and branding costs, and arrange refreshments. You may also have to hire extra staff to manage the event. In addition, if you’re inviting guest speakers, their speaker fees and travel and accommodation costs can add up quite a bit. 

Therefore, virtual events are a great way to save money. You basically set your own budget, and then decide what virtual event features you need. You can keep it as simple as you want to lower costs. You can also include some exciting features that boost attendee engagement, if you keep a higher budget. 


With physical events, people have to worry about things like wheelchair access and visual impairment. However, virtual events can offer a number of accessibility features which address these concerns. There is no physical accessibility to worry about, and the audio/visual components also take impairment in account. 

Furthermore, these events are also convenient for your speakers and audience. Speakers can present live or pre-record their sessions and your audience can view the sessions whenever it’s convenient for them. You do not have to worry about different time zones and other aspects, as long as your sessions are recorded and made available for viewing for later. People can also use any device to log into virtual events on the go, so they can participate wherever they are. 

Furthermore, this accessibility also extends to how people interact with these events. 

Greater Engagement

Sometimes, students may skip valuable events because they think they won’t enjoy them or aren’t comfortable with face-to-face interaction. This is especially true of millennials and the Generation Z. With virtual events, you can add a lot more interactivity without taking students out of their comfort zone. Your attendees will be able to engage with booth representatives, guest speakers, and other attendees at the event. Virtual university events can have a higher engagement rate than in-person events thanks to powerful features such as chat, networking, matchmaking, gamification, etc. And who doesn’t love not having to stand in long lines to talk to a booth representative of interest?

Access to Data Insights

Virtual events not only offer convenience, accessibility, and engagement, but also provide measurability. You can’t really measure audience interactions and track event metrics with physical events. However, virtual events make all of this possible. You can collect valuable data right from registration to after the event is over. You will be able to track attendance, attendee journeys, webinar views, booth visits, content downloads, and more. This helps you gauge the event’s success and how each person benefitted. You can even present your event reports as a valuable asset to your exhibitors, sponsors and partners. 

These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. If you take your events to the digital space, you stand to gain considerably. The only way, however, to fully understand the impact of a virtual event is to host one!  

How to Host College Virtual Events


Now that you know what and how virtual events for universities work, you can actually host one. While most of these events are quite straightforward, you need to go about them in the right way. Here are some steps you can follow to host a virtual university event. 

1. Determine Your Goals

First of all, you need to determine your event goals. Do you want to reach as many prospective students as possible? Do you want to get your students placements with top employers? Are you aiming to raise more funds than last year? Keep such questions in mind before you go any further. These goals will basically determine what sort of event you’ll host and the virtual event platform features you’ll need to host your event.  

Once you set these goals, you can carry out the next steps much more efficiently. Try to quantify your goals as much as possible. For example, your goal is to have twice as many people attend your open day as last year. This way, you can easily gauge your event’s success. 

2. Set a Fixed Budget

Include a detailed budget with your event plan. You will have to map out individual line items and keep separate amounts for everything such as platform fees, digital marketing, etc. Make sure your budget is in line with your goals. Do not go too low, or your event won’t deliver results. On the other hand, if you go too high with your budget, you may be spending extra resources without proportionate returns. It’s important to evaluate past events and the virtual event industry as you create the budget.

3. Choose the Right Audience

You should see whether your event is for current students, incoming students, alumni, parents, or others. You’ll approach each of these audiences differently, so you must decide this in the initial stages. 

When you know your audience, you can plan your event details and marketing strategies more easily. This will streamline your efforts and also prevent you from wasting resources on irrelevant audiences. 

4. Create a Detailed Plan

A detailed plan will help you map out everything you need to do to host a winning virtual event. From initial brainstorming to the final event layout, include everything here. It’s very important to assign roles in this event plan. You need to know who will be taking care of what before you proceed to execute the plan. Assign people for the following tasks:

  • Speaker sourcing and outreach
  • Virtual event marketing
  • Virtual event platform sourcing
  • Live event moderators
  • Live event chat engagers
  • Reporting/data specialist

Share this plan with the relevant stakeholders, and make any adjustments you need. Once you have a proper plan in place, you can work more efficiently.

Download Your FREE Virtual Event Planner


5. Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform

This is one of the most important aspects of your virtual event. You need to decide your must-have features and choose the right hosting platform. This way, you can focus on your own goals, and not have to worry about technical details and such. 

Check whether your shortlisted platforms have the features you need and whether they fit your budget. Then, choose the best options for you, and stay in touch with the platform for the ideal event experience. We will be talking a bit more about event features below.

6. Find Speakers

A virtual event can fall flat on its face if you don’t invite the right speakers. The right speakers would have knowledge to share that your event audience is interested to learn as well as have a personality and speaking style that keeps your audience hooked.

Getting speakers on board is easier if you are going to pick from your university faculty and staff. However, if you need speakers from outside your institution, it’s best to create a list of speakers you’d like to speak at your event as soon as you have finalized your virtual event plan. Start reaching out once you have shortlisted your speakers and be prepared to connect your speakers to the virtual event platform for training sessions. 

7. Market Your Event

Virtual events for universities are easy to market, because most times you already have access to your audience. You simply have to get your student, alumni, and partner email lists and send out invites to the relevant audience. Another great way to promote your event is to put up custom banners on your university website and social media pages. We will talk more about marketing in a bit. 

8. Create Content

The most important aspect of a virtual event is the content. Besides the webinar sessions, you need to create material for your audience. For instance, if you were hosting a virtual open day, you could create pre-recorded virtual tours of the campus, informational videos about student life, department and program brochures, tuition and scholarship documents, campus maps, department presentations, etc. 

All of this material can be added to document and video vaults within your virtual event for your audience to browse and download. 

9. Gather Insights

This last step comes after you have hosted your event. Use your virtual event to measure event performance and ROI. You can track webinar views, booth visits, document downloads, link clicks and more. You can also down chat logs and transcripts. 

The information will help you gauge trends and understand what kind of content gives the most value. You can tweak your future events based on event analytics. You can also share these post-event reports with your sponsors, partners and exhibitors to give them more value.

It’s not that easy to host a successful virtual event, but it’s not extremely hard either. You just need to have a proper plan and follow these steps, and you’re good to go. 

Must-Have University Virtual Event Platform Features


Virtual event features can make or break your university event. Choosing the right features to include is therefore key to hosting a successful virtual event. So how can you make the best choice? Think about your event’s objective and your audience. 

Here are some sought after features that many vFairs customers incorporate in their university events.

Virtual Auditorium

You definitely need an auditorium for most kinds of virtual events. Here, you can host keynote speeches, presentations, talks, and panel discussions. You should be able to host concurrent sessions so that you can cover more ground in a limited time period. If you want to boost engagement, add Q&A sessions, live polling and breakout sessions to your webinars.

In addition, offer a personalized agenda builder so that your attendees only get notifications for the sessions that interest them. It’s also important to make sure that all these sessions are recorded. This way, even if people can’t attend them live, they can view them later at their own convenience. 

Virtual Exhibit Booths

Exhibit booths are a must for most kinds of virtual events. Exhibitors should be able to showcase their brands with the virtual booths and design them accordingly. In addition, they need to be able to upload resources, add relevant links to their social media pages and website and engage with visitors via chat.

For some event types it’s also important to offer a meeting scheduler. This is integrated with the visitors and booth representative calendars, so that they can arrange meetings and calls properly.

If you have a number of exhibitors, you can divide your exhibit hall into multiple floors and add an exhibitor search capability.

Chat & Networking

You must include chat and networking features in your event. These will let your audience interact with each other and various representatives. The chat rooms shouldn’t just let your audience talk to each other via text. Your attendees should be able to interact via audio and video meetings. Just make sure you encourage conversation with the help of a chat engager, for the best results. 

In addition, attendees can also network using features such as attendee auto-match and profile search. These features use registration data to categorize participants and then match them to visitors with similar interests. They also enable exhibitors to find their ideal audience. For instance, employers at a virtual job fair can sort resumes with search filters.

Gamification Features

All work and no play is not really a good idea. You shouldn’t hold boring events which your visitors will log out of quickly. Instead, you should include some solid gamification features. These features include scavenger hunts, trivia games, and photo booths. This will make your event an enjoyable experience, and will encourage people to stick around. 

Gamification can also motivate your attendees to navigate your event. You can include a leaderboard with different points for every desirable attendee action. Visitors with the most points can win prizes. 

Registration Forms

You should gather some information about your visitors before the event and also gauge the headcount. This is possible with custom registration forms. Your platform will design a customized landing page for your event, and show you who’s registered. The forms should include details such as demographics, interests, and location. These details will be quite helpful in understanding your audience and giving them what they need. 

These forms are also helpful when you need to build an attendee database. For instance, if you are holding a networking event and need to match people with similar work experiences with each other. Employers are also interested in having access to a searchable candidate database during a virtual university job fair. If you are hosting such an event, it’s important to include a file upload field in your form for resumes as well. 


As a university, you need to be as inclusive as possible. Therefore, you must make sure your events are accessible to everyone. Whether this involves increasing the contrast of the text or including captions in videos, you should do as much as possible. 

This way, you’ll get audiences with different abilities as well. This promotes a diverse and inclusive academic environment. It also helps you get talented incoming students, regardless of any disabilities or accessibility issues. 

Data Analytics

You must always include data reports and analysis in your list of features. You should be able to track everything from attendance to document downloads within your event. This data should be available in real-time so that you can make changes to your live event and post-event so that you can determine ROI and use it to tweak future events. Such post event reports will also be of interest to your sponsors, exhibitors and partners to measure ROI.

To sum up, there are numerous features you should include in your virtual university events. These features will let you engage with your audience in the best way possible. In addition, you can offer a complete, informative experience which will benefit everyone. 

How to Choose the Right Virtual Events Platform


There are numerous platforms available online. However, not all of them are made equal. You need to make the right choice for you, your exhibitors, and visitors. Here are some things you should consider:


First and foremost, you should consider your budget as you pick a platform. Event hosting platforms have different pricing plans. You need to see what you can afford, and then choose accordingly. When you make this decision, give your shortlisted providers a set number, so that they offer you the appropriate features.


Next, you should look at peer-to-peer software review websites. Check out ratings and reviews of virtual event platforms on websites like G2 and Capterra to get an idea about the best ones. You can sort reviews by industry to get the most accurate insight about each platform. You should pick a platform that has great reviews from other institutions as well. 

Feature List

The difference between various hosting platforms is the features they offer. Some may simply give you a static lobby, with a few Zoom integrations. However, really good platforms like vFairs provide numerous features. These features help you recreate the physical event experience online. So, make sure you go through feature lists thoroughly and ask about their charges. 

You need to pick a platform that has all of your must-have features and if you budget allows for it some of your nice-to-have features as well. 

Customer Service

The whole point of hosting a virtual event is convenience. The best platforms offer stellar customer support so that hosting an online event is a hassle-free experience. Find out if your shortlisted platforms assign you a dedicated project manager and how long they take to respond to emails. 

You also don’t want to be left high and dry on the day of the event if technical issues crop up. Check if the platform offers live technical support on the days of the event. 

Customization Options

Check how much you can customize your event. Some platforms offer you pre-made services, and let you add your logos to them. However, some virtual events software is highly customizable. You can model your virtual event after your campus for a more lifelike experience. You can also pick out a lobby, exhibitor booths and avatars that suit your needs. 

You also want to be able to choose the mix of features you need and adjust them if required.

Consider all these factors when shortlisting your virtual events platform. Do not make a hasty decision. If you do, you may end up with a substandard event with features that don’t work for your event.

Why Choose vFairs?


So should you choose vFairs for your virtual university event? We will let our experience, reviews and awards speak for themselves.

vFairs in Numbers

vFairs was founded in 2016, and took the virtual event concept to another level. It has achieved significant milestones since then. With every step it takes, it aims to offer the best in class virtual and hybrid events. It covers your event requirements from inception to post-event analysis. Here are a few key figures you should know about the vFairs platform.

  • Over 2,000 educational events hosted
  • Over 40,000 education industry exhibitors served 
  • 150 universities and colleges represented
  • 50,000 student attendees served
  • 10,000 teacher/staff attendees served

This should give you an idea of how well-equipped the company is for your virtual events for universities. 

vFairs Reviews & Testimonials

vFairs aims to offer its clients the best possible experience. This dedication is obvious on numerous review platforms. Customers left overwhelmingly positive reviews and testimonials with vFairs itself and on third-party websites. The company also takes feedback in consideration to improve its services. Basically, it listens to its customers and gives them what they want. So, it’s no surprise that it has received some excellent testimonials from its clients. 

Here are a few of them from virtual events for universities. 

  • Cornell University – Graduate School Open Day. Here is a wonderful testimonial by their Senior Director of Recruitment. 
  • Nevada University – Multiple online events. Here is a great testimonial. 
  • German University Cairo – Internship & Employment Fair 2021. Watch the video testimonial here.
  • Bard College – Open House. Here’s the glowing testimonial.
  • University of Maryland in Baltimore – Multiple university virtual events. Watch the testimonial here

You can also browse more than 600 positive reviews on G2 here

vFairs Customer Support

One of the best things vFairs offers is its 24/7 global customer support. It is rated #1 on G2 because of this. In addition, most reviewers talk about how well their dedicated project managers handled everything before, during and after the event. Event organizers also receive technical support to troubleshoot on live event days.

This level of customer support has led to vFairs receiving numerous awards and badges over the years, the more recent being:

  • Leader – Fall 2021 – G2
  • Customers Love Us – Sourceforge
  • Category Leaders – Virtual Events – 2021 – GetApp
  • Mid-Market Leader – Fall 2021 – G2
  • Best Relationship – Small Business – Fall 2021 – G2
  • Leader – Summer 2021 – Sourceforge

How to Promote Virtual Events for Universities?

When you’re hosting your virtual university events, you should also focus on their marketing. After all, if no one knows about your college fairs, how will you make them successful? Therefore, virtual event promotion is a key part of the process. You need to get the word out about your event, and target the appropriate audience. In addition, you should use all avenues available to you for this marketing. Here are a few steps to follow to promote your virtual events for universities.

Create a Landing Page

First of all, create a landing page with a registration portal. Direct your audience to this page to gather data and get registrations. The landing page should include an engaging video, eye-catching graphics, a detailed agenda, speaker bios and more to be able to capture the attention of your audience. 

Promote at the Right Time

Do not promote your event too early or too late. Start pushing it about four weeks before the actual virtual college event for the best results. Any earlier than that and your audience might lose interest. Any later and your audience might already have something planned on your event date.

Use Your Website

Give this event space on your college website. When anyone opens your website, they should see a banner or popup for your event. This will make more people aware about it. 

Use Email Marketing

Use your email lists to let students, alumni, faculty and partners know about your event. You can send separate emails to each group. Highlight what they have to gain from your event, so that they register. 

It’s also important to send reminder emails to your registrants a few days and hours in advance of your event. 

Leverage Your Sponsors & Speakers

Have your sponsors and speakers run event promotions on their websites and social media pages as well, in exchange for brand exposure. Also, have your speakers create small videos to urge visitors to attend the event. You can post these on your social media pages to create hype about the event.

Use Social Media

Social media is the sort of platform you cannot ignore. Market your event on your social media pages and encourage registrants to share the event. This will allow you to reach as wide an audience as possible. Just pick the right platforms depending on your audience. 

Create Video Previews & Teasers

Create short videos as event teasers. These will keep your target audience engaged, and will also generate hype. You can even create short countdown videos to keep up the activity. Once the event actually starts, share short highlight videos to generate social media conversation. 

Event marketing may seem complex, but you just need to have a solid plan in place to get the best results. Here is our Event Marketing Guide: How To Promote Your Virtual Event In 2021 if you need more help.

How to Go Hybrid with University Events

Now that classes are going physical again, you might be thinking about shifting back to the physical event space. However, with virtual events, you get audiences and trackability like no other. We highly recommend that you aim to get the best of both worlds. Hybrid events are the best idea for this. 

These events let you cater to a physical and virtual audience. This way, you get the in-person experience without excluding people who can’t be present. This event type is now popular, as its operations are now more refined. So, you could host your next events on a hybrid platform. 

The good news is that vFairs offers such a platform. It has used its virtual event expertise, with great results. Thus, you can just contact the company and discuss your event vision. You will make things more convenient for yourself. Plus, your event will be a talking point for everyone involved. 

Get Your Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Events



Now that you know all you need about virtual events for universities, you can move on to actually hosting one. Here’s a short overview for quick reference.

  • You need to create a plan, set a budget, and market your virtual college event for success.
  • Virtual events are well worth the effort because of their cost-saving, reach, and convenience.
  • There are many types of virtual events for universities. These include virtual open days, orientations, and virtual career fairs. 
  • There are a number of features you must have at your virtual college event. These include exhibit halls, auditoriums, chat and networking features, and data analytics. 
  • You should choose the right virtual event hosting platform. Consider factors like features, customer service, and budget in this process. 
  • vFairs is your best choice for a successful university virtual event. 
  • You need to promote your virtual events to make them successful. Use social media, email marketing, and your speakers’ influence for this purpose. 
  • You should try out hybrid events, as they are the future of the industry. 

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