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Where to go for support

This article discusses the array of support services available at a typical university in the UK.
© British Council

Studying in a new place is an exciting and fulfilling adventure. However, there are times when students who are far away from their usual support network face challenges that are difficult to manage on their own. In these cases, it’s reassuring to know that help is at hand.

UK universities have a wide range of support services available to students, offering help with any issue affecting their studies or university life. It’s normally expected that students will take advantage of services on their own initiative. You don’t have to wait to be asked or suffer on your own. In some cases, the support will benefit students who aren’t experiencing any particular problem, but who simply wish to take advantage of services that might enhance their experience. For example, you might find a workshop on ‘participating in seminars’ or ‘managing exam stress’ would be interesting to attend.

Knowing where to seek assistance can sometimes be difficult because there are so many options. It’s therefore a good idea to find out what’s available at your university before you need any help. Even if you don’t use a service, you might be able to tell a friend about it.

Here’s an overview of the most common services that universities provide, and just a few examples of the type of support they often offer. Be aware that the names can vary around the UK

Service Typical support provided
Accommodation / Housing Office Guidance and help in finding a place to live on or off campus
Management of university halls of residence
International Student Advisory Pre-and post-arrival advice on life in the UK
Advice on visa and immigration issues
Counselling Confidential discussion of personal issues
Support for mental health difficulties
Disability Advice and guidance for students with disabilities, long-term health conditions, or Specific Learning Difficulties that affect their studies
Assessment of study support requirements
Recommendations for reasonable adjustments
Financial Support Help with financial concerns
Short-term loans
English language / In-sessional English language courses, tutorials and workshops
Writing advisory service
Careers / Employability Career planning advice
Careers events and workshops
Jobs centre / database
Faith societies Spiritual support
Opportunities for exchange between people of different faiths
Students’ Union Advisory Confidential advice on academic and personal issues
Medical Practice Appointments with a nurse or doctor (requires registration)
Medical prescriptions
Study support / learning development Consultations and workshops on a range of academic skills
Online resources to help with study and research skills
Personal Tutor Advice and guidance on academic and personal development issues
Security Response to emergency situations
Late-night escort service for lone students
Handling of lost property

For each of the problems below, where would you advise the student to get help? More than one answer may be possible.

  1. Tina is confused about her visa and how long she can stay in the UK after her course ends.

  2. Pavel has had the flu, has missed ten days of classes, and now will be unable to hand in his first report for a geography course by the deadline. He isn’t sure whether he needs to explain why his essay will be late or whether he needs to submit any documentation about his illness. He doesn’t know how to find out and it’s making him feel very anxious.

  3. Although her IELTS English score was quite high, Jin has been having difficulty in understanding the lectures and in participating during seminar discussion groups.

  4. Mariko has been enjoying her course and has made many friends. But recently she has been missing home very much and can’t concentrate on her work.

  5. Ahmed is a sponsored student, and he knows his government will pay his fees eventually. However, he keeps receiving emails asking for him to pay his fees as soon as possible and feels very embarrassed about this.

Post your answers in the comments below. Then compare your answers to those of other learners. Have you got the same answers?

Once you’ve added your own response and looked at what other learners have said, you could check this PDF with answers supplied by the educators.

Why not look at your university (or choose one) to find out what support services are available. Do they have different names?

© British Council
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