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Being part of the community

One of the key differences between FE and HE that’s mentioned in Step 1.6, is the amount of independence university students are given. You no longer have anyone chasing you about course work or reminding you to have a sensible dinner. You quickly have to learn to be responsible for yourself, and this is probably one of the biggest learning curves you’ll experience in your adult life.

However, you’re not alone. When you become a university student you’re part of an academic community, working with other students and staff, to shape your learning and university experience.

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the people that you may need to know or be aware of before you start university.

Teaching staff

Through your research, you may have come across academic job titles, for example, Professor or Lecturer. To help you get to grips with some of the terminology, listed below are teaching staff at the University of Reading who are academic experts in their field. This is listed in ranking order from most junior to most senior.

PhD Student Will teach and supervise undergraduate students
Teaching Fellow Will teach and supervise undergraduate students, and take on administrative duties within their department.
Lecturer and Senior Lecturer Is a researcher who also teaches undergraduate students.
Associate Professor Is a researcher who also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Professor Is a researcher who also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students. The title of a Professor is the most senior academic teaching role at a UK uni.

If you see the term Dr. in front of someone’s name this indicates the person holds a PhD qualification rather than academic title. When addressing any member of the academic team it’s generally OK to use their first name, unless they state otherwise. If you’re unsure, it is fine to ask how they would like to be referred to as.

Other academic staff

Your Student Support Coordinator At Reading each School has a Student Support Coordinator who is dedicated to helping students with any queries they may have about their course or other aspects of student life.
Academic Tutors Tutors work in partnership with students and the university’s services to support students’ academic, personal and professional development. They may also be known as ‘Personal Tutors’ at other universities
Head of School Each department within a university will have a Head of School who is responsible for the general management of the School and provides academic leadership
Vice-Chancellor Is the principal academic and administrative officer who works closely with senior members of staff to lead the university

Listed below are some of the student support services which are useful to know before you start university. Again, we’re using University of Reading as an example but don’t worry, many other universities will have either the same or similar services.

Student support services

Counselling and Wellbeing Experienced counsellors and mental health advisers are on hand to provide advice, support and guidance on a wide range of issues.
Disability Advisory Service The University of Reading welcomes disabled students and has a dedicated Disability Advisory Service. The service offers advice and guidance to students with any disability, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty (SpLD).
The International Student Advisory Team The team offers information and advice for all international and EU students, providing professional and confidential support, such as, settling in to immigration.
Student Financial Support Team Are the team to go to for financial support and advice about fees and funding advice. They’re also responsible for administering some of the scholarships and bursaries available. They offer a service for students who have questions or problems they’d like to discuss regarding their financial situation.
Student Services Reception This team can help with general queries about university and sign post to relevant Student Services teams.
Student Union The Student Union is a student-run group that provide services, activities and support to current students.

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Familiarise yourself with who and what’s around you by doing some research before starting university. Though you may not remember it all, your research will give you an idea of the support systems available to you, should you ever need them.

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This article is from the free online course:

Live Smart: Your Essential Guide to Living at University

University of Reading