Worried about getting enough support at university? Find out what other students found the most helpful
When you go to uni, there’s a lot of acclimatising that needs to take place pretty quickly. Whether it’s mental health, a disability or money worries, many students will need access to student support services at some point during their time at uni. So, before you make your firm choice, it can really pay to do your research and look at the services on offer.
To help you think about the types of services you might need to access as a student, we’ve pulled together some top tips from the TSR community and UEA students Amy and Matilde to show you what others students found the most helpful.
Some general questions…
First and foremost, think about your life right now. Do you have any current challenges that you’ll expect to continue to be an issue while you’re at uni? If so, it’s worth researching what support services your shortlisted unis can offer you to make your student life easier, no matter if you’re an undergraduate or a postgraduate student.
Mark, a Student Ambassador at Keele University, says: “As well as joining societies or finding people you share things in common with, one of my biggest pieces of advice would be to not be afraid to access the support that is available to you at university. Although all universities have different systems of support (some of which are perhaps more effective than others) they’re useless if not used!”
Looking after your mental health
The vast majority of unis have their own mental health support services. This will often be counselling, therapy or access to trained specialists who deal with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, stress and more. If you're feeling like you might need some support, accessing mental health services at an early stage can stop a minor issue becoming something bigger - try not to assume an issue you're experiencing isn't worth tackling, as dealing with it as soon as possible will benefit you in the long run.
TSR member Origami Bullets says: “Many universities have a counselling service, which is provided free and has much shorter waiting times than NHS services.”
Help with your career
Naturally, during your degree you’ll probably have some questions about finding jobs and pursuing your chosen career path.
If you want expert advice, your uni’s careers service should be your first port of call. They can give you specialist resources or guidance to help narrow down your job search, or put you in touch with graduates of the uni who are already working in your chosen field for advice and pointers.
TSR member BurstingBubbles says: “Your uni should also offer career help such as looking over your CV and helping to prep you for interviews.”
Getting financial support
For most students, uni is the first time you’ve ever had to manage your own budget. Many students worry about money, and if you’re concerned about your financial situation, it’s best to contact your uni’s financial support team sooner rather than later to help you with any issues. They can also help you to identify potential extra sources of funding, such as hardship funds, if you really need them.
Member Reality Check offers an insight: “Unis have funds to help you and are usually able to advance a sum of money to get you out of your immediate problems, which usually isn’t repayable.”
Support with housing and accommodation
Some students find it difficult securing accommodation, especially after first year when you usually move out of halls and into student housing.
If you’re struggling to find somewhere to live or are having issues with your current accommodation, your uni’s accommodation support service will help you find a room or work with you to sort any housing-related challenges you’re facing.
Mental health charity Student Minds commented on TSR: “There is a lot of support out there, so I would definitely recommend doing some research and finding the right support service that can help. Your uni should have the most useful links on their student support webpage - best to google ‘[university name] student support’ and you should get to the right link.”
Want to ask someone that’s already used the service? Gain advice from UEA students and benefit from their experiences via UEA's AskAStudent hub.
Help for international students
While Student Finance doesn’t offer funding for international students, many unis will help fund the cost of studying in the UK.
Most unis will also offer services to help international students settle into life in the UK, find accommodation and meet other people to help welcome them to the uni and their new city. Member Klix88 says: “International students need to look at each uni's website to find details of their bursaries, scholarships etc. These will all be detailed online.”
If you’re an international student, it’s a good idea to find out in advance what services your uni provides so that you can feel more at home once you start.
Support for students with disabilities
All universities are responsible for providing appropriate support for disabled students, whether that’s in terms of accessibility, accommodation, exam support, different resources or anything else needed to help you. You may be eligible for extra funding or equipment as a disabled student, so contact your disability services team to book an assessment and to find out what support the uni can offer you.
TSR member Pathway says: “The DSA assessment is good, as the assessor sits down with you and sees what your difficulties are with studying and how best to help you. Mine was super useful and suggested a lot of different things.”
Getting to know your personal tutor
Personal tutors are there to help support you with the switch to uni life, especially in your first year. You can go to them for pastoral support, whether this is worries about your workload, personal issues that may affect your academic performance or anything else that is concerning you. It’s best to meet your personal tutor sooner rather than later so that you feel more comfortable approaching them with any issues you may encounter.
Jdawsonrules says: “As much as tutors can feel like extra sources of academic pressure, they are actually there to help you!”
General health and sexual health services
Most unis have their own health centres, so make sure you register with yours as soon as possible once you’ve arrived. You will then have access to appointments like you would at home, along with sexual health services offering things like STI tests, pregnancy tests, contraception and free condoms. Many students leave it until they need an appointment before they register, but it pays to be organised and get into the system ahead of time.
“I know our student union and university nurse give condoms away for free. You can even get a C-card so you don't have to say out loud what you want.” – ~Kirsty~
So, if you’re worried about the support available to you at uni, don’t be! Your uni support team is there to help you, and you should never be afraid to reach out if you have any problems - they will happily work with you to help you find a solution.
Watch more videos about student life
Our vloggers are sharing their experiences of student life direct from the campus. In this video playlist, we've collected their vlogs about first year accommodation, to help you get an idea of what it's like when you first start.
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