Support, safety and security during your course

There may be times at university or college when you need guidance and support on all kinds of issues. If so, there is help available. There are also practical steps you can take to improve your safety and security.

Academic issues

Studying at a university or higher education college is very different to being at school or in further education. On many courses, you'll be expected to study largely on your own. You'll need to manage your time effectively if you are going to meet deadlines, as well as developing your academic skills for tasks such as writing essays.

If you do experience academic problems, your personal tutor can provide advice. Getting help at an early stage can often stop small problems becoming more difficult to deal with.

Most student unions also have a welfare officer who will give confidential advice to students on almost any welfare or course-related problem. Your college may even have a mentoring scheme, where more experienced students give academic guidance to newer students.

Health and personal problems

Health

The state of your health will affect your ability to study. It’s important to take care of yourself, eat well and take some exercise. When enrolling at a university or college, you should register with a doctor as soon as you can.

Many campuses have their own health services, and some also have their own dentists and opticians.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim help with health costs like dental work and glasses. Visit the health and well-being section for more information about health services and healthy living, and to find GP surgeries, doctors, dentists, pharmacies (chemists), hospitals and walk-in centres near you.

A meningitis vaccination programme is available for older teenagers and those under 25 going to university for the first time. For more information, visit:

Personal problems

The NUS (National Union of Students) website has advice on dealing with homesickness and other problems commonly faced by new students.

Your university or college will have a counselling service. Some also offer an out-of-hours ‘Nightline’ - a listening, emotional support and information service run for students by students. Or you can call or email organisations such as the Samaritans, which offer emotional support 24 hours a day.

  • Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

You can also let off steam on online forums such as The Student Room - or your university's student union may provide a similar service through their website.

Safety and security

Personal safety

Be aware of your own safety, especially if you are living in an inner city area. If you are concerned, there are steps you can take. For instance, most universities and colleges offer self-defence classes or give out personal alarms. You should also look at the range of facilities and services (for example, late night minibus transport) offered by your local students' union.

Housing safety and security

Student accommodation is a notorious target for burglars. This is true of both university-owned and privately rented housing. Make sure that doors and windows have proper locks fitted. There’s plenty of advice on home security available online.

If renting privately, make sure gas appliances have valid security certificates, and that all furniture meets with health and safety regulations. Also make sure that the property is fitted with smoke alarms and that the batteries are tested regularly.

Childcare

Most universities and colleges offer some form of childcare provision. These can include creches, out-of-school clubs, toy libraries and holiday play schemes. Contact your university or college for information.

Financial help for students with children

If you are a full-time student with dependent children, you may be entitled to extra financial help on top of any Student Loans, grants and bursaries you get.

Students with disabilities

Colleges and universities have become increasingly aware of the needs of students with disabilities, and have a duty to promote disability equality. Many have specialist support services to help meet disabled students’ needs across all areas of university or college life.

You may be eligible for extra financial support if you have a disability or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Follow the links below for more on what you can expect.

Combining study with work

Many students work part-time to support themselves while they are studying. Others choose flexible learning so they can fit study around a full-time job. When considering which courses you want to apply for, it's worth investigating whether they can be delivered through flexible learning.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.