Where to find help at university

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Posted
July, 2022

Despite the wealth of information and resources on offer, it can be tricky knowing who to contact for the problems you're facing, so here is a rundown of common queries and solutions

Most concerns you have are likely to be a matter for your personal tutor. Their primary role is guidance and support, but this isn't limited to your course. As you meet with them regularly you may feel more comfortable talking to them about personal troubles. While your tutor will check in with you it's your responsibility to reach out to them if you need help.

Another option is the students' union, which is the only support service in the university to offer independent advice and support to students. They can listen to your concerns and use their understanding of university policies and procedures to help you understand your problems and resolve them.

Wellbeing

If you're struggling with your mental health, suffering from stress or just generally not feeling yourself then you should head to your university's wellbeing office (also referred to as the student support centre). Usually situated at the heart of the campus you'll find trained staff that can offer counselling and a listening ear.

You can also seek help from outside your university with services such as Student Space from Student Minds. Some of the services they offer include:

  • Talking to trained volunteers by text, phone, email or webchat about whatever issues are on your mind.
  • Discovering what support is available at your university.
  • Accessing dozens of articles and videos, written by expert clinicians and students, to help you through the challenges of student life.

Visiting your doctor is another option but it's important to remember that if you've moved away from home then you'll need to register with a GP as soon as you arrive at university. Janette Nhangaba, head of student support services and wellbeing at the Middlesex University explains what other health services are available.

'We host on-campus GP clinics, while our services work closely with Uni Doctor to support students with their health. Middlesex University also works collaboratively with health providers to signpost and/or offer vaccinations.'

Get more advice on looking after your mental health at university.

Course problems

Some people feel overwhelmed with their course straight away, for others it creeps up on them, but whenever it happens you should seek help without hesitation. Skipping the classes of a particular module or putting off coursework is not the way to go. In the first instance you should speak to your course tutors, explain your problems and see if there is a way to work through them.

If you disagree with a grade your tutor has given you, the first thing you should do is review the annotations and see if that helps you understand the reasoning behind the grade. If you still disagree, then you can appeal by emailing the course tutor. Alternatively, check the university website for their appeal procedure.

Appeals are different to complaints. If you're worried about the teaching quality on your course then you'll need to follow your university's complaints procedure. In the first instance this usually involves detailing your concerns in an email. Be prepared to back up your complaint with supporting evidence. You may also need to conduct a face-to-face follow-up conversation.

If your ability to study has been affected by circumstances beyond your control you can get a deadline extension. Be sure to familiarise yourself with what qualifies for this circumstance and do it as soon as you can, because once you miss the deadline you can no longer apply.

Find out more about changing or leaving your course.

Accommodation

If you're in halls of residence and have a problem such as a noisy neighbour or a broken washing machine then you need to speak to your warden or hall monitor. They are based in halls and should be able to sort your problem or point you in the right direction. If they can't help then the accommodation office is your next stop.

For those renting from a private landlord you will need to speak to your student support service and they will be able to guide you and help you deal with the local council if the matter is serious. Do not deal with problems on your own as while it is beyond the university's control they will still be able to offer support.

Take a look at what you need to know about student accommodation.

Finance

One thing that worries students the most is the cost of going to university and the debt they might get into. However, universities have lots in place to stop students from getting into financial hardship and it's worth contacting the university to see what they offer and if you're eligible.

For example, the University of Bedfordshire has funding available as Ruki Heritage, director of student experience explains.

'To help our students and support their studies, we offer generous scholarships and bursaries that do not need to be paid back - up to £800 cash per year, subject to eligibility.'

'The university also offers a hardship fund for students who get into financial difficulty while studying, and to help those on a low income or suffering financial hardship to stay in higher education. This can go towards additional costs not already met by grants, student loans or other funding, and can be up to £4,000 per year.'

In addition to handing out money universities also run workshops covering topics such as budgeting and money management to help you with your finances. As well as more practical sessions such as cookery and planning a weekly shop both of which will help you stretch your budget. You can usually find details of when these will be held on the finance section of your university's website.

Get more advice on saving money as a student and student loans and finance.

You could also supplement your income by getting a part-time job either on campus or within the local community. The careers service or university job shop will have details of opportunities on offer. Just make sure it doesn't interfere with your studies.

Careers advice

The university careers service is often thought of as the place you visit towards the end of your university life for help deciding on your career or applying for a job. However, they offer so much more than that.

They can help you to secure a work experience opportunity, check over your CV, help you prepare for an interview for your part-time job or show you how to gain those all-important transferable skills.

Disability and inclusion support

The Equality Act (2010) means that employers or providers of education must adapt or provide support where needed, so that nobody with a disability is deterred from taking a course.

As well as taking a look at the university's website and speaking to people it's also worth attending open days to see if your needs can be met. Can you easily access your lectures? Do they allow early access to events so you can navigate before it's busy? What exam support and accommodation adjustments are on offer?

Find out more

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