Universities welcome students from all different backgrounds and walks of life. They have teams dedicated to ensuring all students feel included and supported and are able to get the most from their university experience.
The services range from faith and spirituality groups, societies for those who identify as LGBT, to specialist support for those with a disability or learning difference.
There are two main support networks, the Students’ Union and the university’s student services. If your son or daughter experiences any problems during their studies, these support networks provide someone to confide in and any help they might require. If at any stage your child becomes overwhelmed by any aspect of their life then urge them to seek help from the university.
In some cases there is additional financial support available to students who are overcoming additional obstacles. They include Bursaries for students from a care background, funding to purchase specialist equipment for those with a visual or hearing impairment or the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). When researching potential institutions it is worth considering whether they can offer any funding packages as well as pastoral support. For more information on the DSA, a national funding package visit www.gov.uk
Many university students will identify themselves as having a form of disability – this can be physical or a mental health illness.
There is a designated section on the UCAS application where students can add details. Student can also include it in their personal statement or request that it is written into their reference. It is important to stress at this point that this information will be treated confidentially and will in no way hinder the success of the application.
If a university is aware of a student’s circumstances then they can make any necessary preparations to ensure that they have all of the support required during the course of their degree. This may be in the form of alterations to a bedroom (to allow wheelchair access), providing specialist IT equipment/software or being assigned a tutor/counsellor. Students may also be entitled to additional study support which may include extra time in exams, coursework extensions or a note taker.
For some students they do not realise they have a specified learning difference until they enrol at a university and begin their degree. It is very common for students to undertake an assessment to determine if they are dyslexic and the university will be happy to help facilitate this. If your son or daughter confides in you that they are struggling with the academic work for their course then encourage them to speak to their student services department – again, this will not be viewed negatively and may help to improve grades overall.
Security and safety
Universities place a great deal of emphasis on student safety and every step is taken to ensure your son or daughter can enjoy their university experience in a secure environment.
University accommodation should come equipped with fire safety equipment and it is common for institutions to run fire safety demonstrations. You should encourage your son or daughter to attend so that they are aware of how to best tackle or act should a fire break out. Halls of residence blocks should also offer a significant level of security to enter the building and are often monitored 24 hours a day by an on-site security team in case of any emergencies during the night. When students are viewing potential properties to rent privately they should consider the safety of the area and the accommodation itself.
Throughout the course of the academic year many universities will run campaigns around personal safety, this may include handing out personal alarms, self-defence classes and advice on how to protect valuables.
One task that is often overlooked by students in their first year is to register with a local doctor and dentist. This is a relatively quick process and something you should encourage your son or daughter to do in case they require a medical appointment during term time. Most universities have either health centres on-site or links with local ones and can provide you with information as to their location and services.
The transition from A Levels/BTECS to undergraduate degree can be a significant one and some students initially struggle to adapt to a new style of learning. This is perfectly normal and nothing to panic about. In most cases a student will have been assigned a personal tutor/counsellor and attending a meeting with this person is a great first step to seek advice. In addition the university library may offer guidance in note taking, revision, research and utilising library resources further. It is important that if a student feels that they are getting overwhelmed that they do seek out help before the problem(s) escalate any further.