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
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:
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.
- Freshers and settling in overview (National Union of Students website)
- The Student Room
- Nightline - Want to talk
Safety and security
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.
- Reducing and preventing crime (GOV.UK website)
- Domestic gas installation and health and safety
- Health and safety in rented accommodation
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.