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Support at uni: 10 university services

Staying healthy and happy is so important at uni – and in life! Fortunately, there are lots of professionals at university to help you in a variety of ways – from academic guidance to support with accommodation, counselling, careers and health.

I’m Faye and I’m in my final year of Business Management with Finance BSc. I have benefited from a lot of support from the uni during my course, and in this long read blog I’m going to share my experience.

10 ways you can be supported at uni:

1. Course leaders
2. School administrators
3. Personal Academic Tutors (PATs)
4. Student Support and Guidance Tutors (SSGTs)
5. Student Residential Advisors (SRAs)
6. Disability and dyslexia
7. Counselling
8. Student Advice Service
9. Careers and employability
10. Medical services

1. Course leaders

Your course leader (CL) is the lead on your course. They are there for you if you are stuck or need further advice. They can help you with extensions, or if you have any issues and may need some extra support on your course. You would contact your CL if you want to intermit, defer or go part time.
My course leader helped me navigate a difficult year and had plenty of check-ups on me in a year when I had mitigating circumstances. My course leader was very understanding and supportive of my personal issues and helped me to make my workload more manageable, advising me to focus on my deadlines and do what I can, and defer what I could not do. Thus, also advising me to do one thing at a time!

2. School administrators

Your school administrator is also there for any timetabling or administrative difficulties. If there is any confusion, you can contact the school administrator/school office and they can help you.
When I had deferral tasks over the summer and then deferring a year, the school office was there to help ease my anxiety and put things in place for deferral with Student Finance England too.

3. Personal Academic Tutors (PATs)

Your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) can also be a central point of contact to signpost you to other services within the academic team. They are there to help foster a belonging to the university. They also can help set goals and monitor your achievement. They maintain regular contact with you with a group meeting at the beginning of the year and have a one-to-one meeting thereafter. You can also ask for additional one-on-one meetings.

They can also help you with any transitions i.e. your first year, after a placement year, or moving from one level to the next. A personal tutor can also help provide an academic reference.

My personal tutor really helped me transition after my placement year (which was also after the pandemic). A lot of changes had been made, and my timetable was also not playing to my favour, so my personal tutor got in contact with my course leader to help me adjust. My PAT had a few coffee meetings with me in Elm House (the new business school building), where we discussed my issues and helped with solutions to some problems in my group work. My PAT also offered to help me with any questions on my finance modules (my specialism), as this was her speciality area too.

4. Student Support and Guidance Tutors (SSGTs)

SSGTs act as pastoral support at the university. They are a good first initial contact to go to when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. They can signpost you to further services if needed. Otherwise, they can offer a chat to help you solve a problem or give you advice on your studies.

My SSGT in the Brighton Business School has been paramount for me in continuing my studies. There have been a few times when I felt like giving up, but my SSGT helped restore my motivation and faith in myself. My SSGT would also give me tips on how to make my studies more manageable, such as using the Pomodoro technique – a 25-minute timer for studying, followed by a 5-minute break.
My SSGT has helped me navigate through stressful and hard times while on my course.

The Pomodoro Technique: a useful strategy for studying.

5. Student Residential Advisors (SRAs)

SRAs live and work in halls of residence and provide support to new residents. They are there to help you settle into your accommodation, and life at the university in general, and can be a central point of contact. They are upper-year students, and it is often easier to talk to a fellow student than to staff.
An SRA organises and delivers social events (which usually include refreshments and food!). They provide student support regularly to see if you are okay and work on a call-out basis in case a student is feeling homesick or lonely for example.

I was an SRA in my second year and my final year after my placement year. It has been a very rewarding role and I have enjoyed working alongside other SRAs. I had a few callouts in my second year, a few flat meetings where I mediated issues and I have met students at the SU café to have a chat and check in on them following a meeting.

It feels great knowing that I can be there for someone who may be feeling a bit lost during their time at university, and I could be there for them when they felt like they were not sure who they could turn to and felt stuck. I particularly enjoyed hosting the pub quiz night in the Student Union bar – it is such a fun event to run where we also gave out pizza!

6. The disability and dyslexia team

The disability and dyslexia team are there to support anyone who has a long-term condition that has an effect on their ability to study. This could be specific learning differences, mental health conditions, neurodiversity, physical disability, long-term health conditions, and/or any combination of these.

The team offers Learning Support Plans, which are specific adjustments to the way you are taught and assessed on your course. They can also help provide you with other facilities that can support you. There is also funded support offered which is provided through Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), which can include specialist IT or other equipment, one-to-one staffing such as study skills tuition, mentoring, BSL interpreting or physical support and help with other costs arising from your disability, including travel.

In my first year of university I went to the disability and dyslexia team with concerns about dyslexia. The team referred me for a screening, followed by an assessment where I was diagnosed with dyslexia. From then, I was granted DSA so I could have a new large-screen laptop (which cost only £200, but the university then refunded the £200 as I was in a low-income household). I also got a recording device that I can use in lectures (which includes coloured coding), and helps me to read and write, plus mind mapping software and Grammarly. I also could see a study skills tutor who would help me with time planning and a mentor who would help me with motivation.

I was also placed on a learning support plan which gave me two weeks extra for deadlines and extra time for exams. Assessors would also take my spelling and grammar into consideration. I was also allocated a Learning Support Coordinator (LSC), who was there to ensure all the support was in place and effective. My LSC was a point of contact for liaising with the university to ensure I was given the right support for my studies. My LSC was there for me above and beyond and would contact my course leader and tutors to ensure I was being supported. My LSC was also there for me when I had some health issues and has helped me navigate my way through my studies, including liaising with the accommodation team.

7. Counselling

The university may offer you counselling after an initial assessment. This is allocated on a case-by-case basis, depending on needs and availability, to help you overcome difficulties. This may include one-to-one assessment sessions to understand your needs and then up to three follow-up counselling sessions. If there is a more serious matter, you could then be referred to the University Guidance and Management Counsellor.

When I started to feel sick and lose enjoyment studying at university, I saw a counsellor who really helped me in terms of giving advice on going to the doctors and being assertive, plus discussing my course and the potential of deferring. Getting off what was on my mind made me feel much better and reduced the weight I was holding myself.

Counselling
Whether it’s an academic, financial or personal matter, the university offers a range of services to get students the right help.

8. Student Advice Service

The Student Advice Service provides information, advice, and support to students on financial issues, eligibility, statutory student finance package, DWP Benefits, budgeting, money management and anything else in between. I was able to access the hardship fund once when money was tight and I was finding it hard to meet the rent, although it is better to budget or ensure you allow you have enough income. Another tip is to make sure you have money to enjoy yourself too.

9. Careers and employability

The careers and employability team can help you decide what career is for you, work on the skills required and get a job when you finish your studies. They also offer support and advice on placements, volunteering, mentoring and business start-ups. They offer one-to-one appointments.

I saw my career advisor when I was unsure of what career path to choose. They helped me go through my strengths and weaknesses, and what I like and dislike. It was valuable to talk about it with an advisor.

I also secured a placement year doing finance with the London Metropolitan Police. I used the placement hub to do so. I also engaged with the placement officers and used university resources throughout the year to help improve my CV, cover letters and preparation for interviews.

10. Medical services

The university has GPs you can connect to, or you can go to plenty of others available in Brighton. It is important to report health concerns to your GP, your main point of contact in healthcare. The university is very supportive, but they’re not responsible for your healthcare. There are three university medical centres though. You can also engage in further well-being services if needed, which the GP can help refer you to. In Brighton, there are also many charities that you can tap into, and the city is known for its diversity.

Student looking at their phone

Word from the uni…

For more information, visit our comprehensive Wellbeing section on the range of services available at university.

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business and lawbusiness management with financeSchool of Business and Law

Faye Holland • 31st October 2022


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