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Student Support is very important to us here at UCS, so to find out more about it we had a chat with Student Support Coordinator David Clarke.

What is your role within the University?

“It is my job to oversee the Student Support team at UCS. We provide information, advice and guidance to ensure that students get the support they need, when they need it.”

What support is available for students?

“At UCS I like to think that our students have the best of both worlds. Firstly, they are part of a small, tight-knit community where everyone tends to support each other – more so than might happen in a large University where you can feel a little bit lost in a big crowd. Secondly, students have access to all of the wide range of support and specialist help that is available within the University of Chester. We also have extensive links within Shrewsbury and Shropshire, so whatever support a student needs, we can hopefully point them in the right direction.”

What can students do if they have financial problems or concerns?

“Our Wellbeing Advisors can help students manage their finances and work to a budget. If a student gets into a tricky financial situation then our advisors can help with managing debt too. They can also provide advice and guidance on how to apply to our Financial Assistance Fund and what other sources of funding may be available. We can also provide support and signpost students towards help with their student loan and maintenance grants, which I know from experience can be a very confusing system to get to grips with!”

Does the University have options available for students who may be having difficulties with their mental health?

“We try to really get to know our students and promote a culture where mental health is understood and talked about openly. Pretty much everybody suffers from mental health issues at some point, and there are lots of ways we support our students through this. We have various awareness campaigns and promote things like healthy and active living on a daily basis. We have Wellbeing Advisors who act as a first port of call for all of our students that are experiencing difficulties of any kind – from homesickness, adapting to University life, anxiety and depression through to those who sometimes have a complex diagnosis or more severe mental illness. We also have Counsellors and Mental Health Advisors that students can be referred to, along with lots of links with external organisations and charities, including MIND, Samaritans and the NHS. These external links are important as we aim to help students build their resilience and ensure that, if they need it, they have continued access to support from external organisations after their time at UCS.”

How are disabled students supported?

“Our Disability & Inclusion team works closely with students to ensure that all students have the necessary support, and that all reasonable adjustments are made. Each student that has any extra requirements or needs any additional help in relation to a physical or mental condition can work with the team to put their own personal Inclusion Plan in place. Inclusion Plans are shared with academic staff so that lecturers are aware of the individual needs of students and, where needed, can adjust the way they teach their course. Our team can assist students through their application for Disabled Student Allowance, which can help fund any specialist equipment or support. We really encourage students to engage with Disability & Inclusion as early as possible, over the summer before they arrive at University. If students have had support at college and school, for example with additional arrangements for exams, it’s important they let us know early. This helps us to put all the arrangements in place here before students start their studies so that nobody is disadvantaged in any way, and all of our students are as successful as they can be!”

Could you tell us some more about the information available for care leavers, young adult carers, international students and mature students?

“We recognise that certain groups of students have slightly different needs when it comes to support. Within the University’s Wellbeing & Mental Health team we have dedicated advisors that specialise in working with particular groups, including care leavers, young adult carers, pregnant students, international students and mature students. The support available is wide-ranging and we work with each individual to ensure that they have an appropriate support package put in place. This can range from support with accommodation, exploring what loans and bursaries are available, to working as a link between a student and the Local Authority or other external agencies. More detail about this can be found here.”

You can find out more about Student life at UCS here.

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