As results time draws closer now that exams are over, I want to talk a bit about the worries you may have about coming back to UEA after summer, specifically from a welfare perspective.
This blog will talk about:
- concerns you may have upon returning to UEA because of the pandemic that might be caused by money, health or caring responsibilities, for instance
- concerns about what your teaching will look like and what modules are available to you
- support you can seek
Concerns about returning to campus
As you know, we are going through an incredibly unique time and many of us are facing new and unexpected challenges we’ve never experienced before. It is entirely understandable to have concerns around returning to University because of the pandemic, for a multitude of reasons. I’d like this blog to address some of those concerns and give some info on support and advice available to help.
- Heath: Whilst this pandemic is proving to be a constantly changing situation with new developments happening daily, it’s likely that if you are shielding, for instance, you may need the option of attending your classes online. The University is in the process of supporting students who are unable to return to campus due to health concerns and guidance will be released on this soon. Keep an eye out for this on the main UEA Coronavirus FAQ pages.
- Finances: COVID-19 has no doubt caused financial difficulties for many and this is something that will continue to be an issue for lots of students attending next academic year, especially if you haven’t been able to work over the summer. Whilst you can apply for your student loan and try and find employment within the SU and the local community as restrictions lift, there is likely to be less opportunity for work and your loan may not cover all your costs. The UEA hardship fund, which is a non-repayable loan you may be eligible for, has been extended to support more students during this crisis we are facing so I hugely recommend you apply if you need it. You can find more information on the hardship fund here.
The SU also runs its own Food bank throughout the year, which was running even before COVID-19. So please do not hesitate to come into the Advice Centre in the Hive, or drop an email to email@example.com if you are in need of some support to help alleviate one of your costs.
You can also apply for the VC hardship loan which is targeted at helping to support students as a short term solution. It is mandatory to repay and not suitable for long-term financial issues but it is worth looking into. You can find out more about the VC hardship loan here:
- Caring Responsibilities: If you have caring responsibilities and the pandemic has affected access to your usual sources of support and you are worried about how you will cope next year, I would strongly advise you to reach out to the University. You can talk directly to your school by emailing your advisor or you could contact your hub. If you would like help in doing this, you can contact advice(su). It may be possible that they can make some adaptations for you to allow you to continue your studies.
All schools are different and individual schools are making plans for how they will deliver the teaching and modules that they do have available from September. If you are worried about returning to UEA in September, whatever the reason, it is important that you reach out to your school and let them know of your concerns so that they can try to address them as soon as possible. There may be scope for the school to make personal arrangements for you to continue your course without having to attend campus.
What happens when your module gets cancelled and what you can do about it if this is causing you worry
You may find that one of your modules that you were looking forward to in your degree has been cancelled as UEA make plans to teach students in September. If you are unhappy with the changes proposed, and want to raise these, an option you can look at is making an academic complaint regarding the closure of the modules and the alternatives you have been presented with.
This academic complaints process starts informally. If you have not yet done so you should contact the module lead or your course director and raise the issue of the module closure with them, which you can do by email. This will allow you the opportunity to convey your worries, for the school to get an understanding of what students think and feel about the changes and may help you to understand the content of the alternative modules in more detail and allay some of your worries. If you feel you need to, you can escalate this conversation to your head of school.
If after raising your concerns with your school, you feel that they have not been addressed properly or at all, you can make a formal academic complaint.
You can contact advice(su) for help with this process and to talk about your options, if you are concerned at all and you can find out more information on this on the advice(su) page here.
Individual schools are making plans for how they will deliver the teaching and modules that they do have available from September. If you are worried about returning to UEA in September, it is important that you speak to your school and let them know of your concerns, whatever the reason, so that they can try to address these as soon as possible. There may be scope for the school to make personal arrangements for you to continue your course without having to attend campus, if that is a concern for you, for instance.
As always, if you are in need of any support to help talk through any of the issues raised in this blog, we are here to help!
Student Services: Studentsupport@uea.ac.uk
Learning enhancement team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe and take care,