Student Services News

News from the Student Services Centre (Carrington Building)

Safety & Security Advice Series with Julie Susel

We are excited to announce a new series of features on safety and security. Over the coming months, Neighbourhood Supervisor Julie Susel will be giving us advice on a wide range of issues surrounding personal safety and our community.

Welcome, Julie!

Hello, my name is Julie Susel, I am a Neighbourhood Supervisor with Thames Valley Police, stationed at Loddon Valley Police Station.  From now on, I’ll be writing a monthly feature for the University, on all things safety and security.

Part of my responsibilities as Neighbourhood Supervisor is to look after the University of Reading, engaging with students and staff, and dealing with any criminal activity across the campuses.  I train students and staff on many things, such as vulnerability awareness, consent, drugs etc. I get involved with safeguarding issues (protecting students from harm), burglaries, thefts, public disorder; really anything that happens on campus.

I am a mum of three and my eldest son is doing his PGCE at the London Road Campus, and my Husband is a retired detective, who works within the Security Team, thus I am very invested in the University and feel privileged to do this role.

I supervise a team of six Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and we are always available for advice, so please if you see us around campus, come and say hello, or if you would like to contact us, the Security team will have our contact details.

Keep an eye on the Me@Reading student portal and Student Services blog, where I’ll be sharing my advice and news on topics such as alcohol awareness, drug awareness, and consent over the coming months.

A PhD: What, me?

‘A PhD: What, me?’ is a workshop run by the Graduate School, designed for those considering embarking on a research degree or who just want to know more. You’ll find out about:

  • What is a PhD?
  • Life as a PhD student
  • Entry requirements
  • Writing a research proposal
  • The admissions process
  • Funding opportunities
  • How the Graduate School can support you

The details

Wednesday 21 November 2018

14:00-15:30, Van Emden Theatre, Edith Morley Building

Book your place now

Final week for module changes- deadline 19 October

Autumn term is underway, and it’s the last week of module selection changes! So, what do you need to know?

  • The deadline for completing your 120 / 180 credit selection of changing any Autumn term modules is Friday 19th October 2018 at 12:30.
  • After this, no changes can be made.
  • If you have not selected by the 19th, we’ll add a module to their selections next week.

To select your modules, login to RISIS. If you have any questions, visit your Support Centre.


Spring term modules

You can still ask for changes to your spring term modules, but it is a “like for like” change within Spring (and sometimes Summer term) modules. There will be a module selection help point to attend during the first 2 terms of the spring term, so keep an eye out for this. Be reminded that by this time, your choices will be restricted.

Access free online support with Big White Wall

Mental health difficulties can affect anyone, on any day of the year, but World Mental Health Day is a good opportunity to reflect on how you look after yourself and your mental wellbeing.

To coincide with World Mental Health Day today, we’re launching Big White Wall – an online mental health support service which is free for all University of Reading students.

Big White Wall is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s completely anonymous, so you can express yourself freely and interact with other users in a safe environment which is carefully monitored by professionally trained Wall Guides.

As well as providing an online community where you can share your thoughts and feelings, you can access self-help resources on topics like anxiety, depression, eating and drinking habits, relationships and sleep.

Big White Wall is completely anonymous and separate to the University, so no one will know you are using it unless you tell them. You sign up using your University of Reading email address, and then choose a username which is how you’ll be known to other users.

Selina Patankar-Owens, Head of Student Wellbeing Services, said: “Big White Wall is one of the many services on offer to support students’ mental and physical wellbeing, and is a great resource if you’re struggling with issues such as low mood, anxiety or stress. You can share your feelings anonymously without judgement and connect with people who are experiencing similar things, and it’s available in the evening and at weekends when University counselling services aren’t available.”

Find out more about Big White Wall and sign up at:


JobFest – Your future now

JobFest is a great opportunity to find ways to boost your employability skills, as well as try something new. Whether you find a part time job, sign up for a mentor or learn more about volunteering, you’re bound to find a way to develop your skills and interests.

Located in The Dome on Wednesday 3 October, 12pm-4pm, JobFest hosts the Part-Time Jobs Fair, where over 20 local employers will be looking to recruit University of Reading students – so make sure you bring your CV along with you!
Discover what extra-curricular activities are on offer, have a free professional photo taken at our LinkedIn photo booth and meet our careers experts to discuss your plans or get a CV check.

With lots of prizes to be won, free goody bags and refreshments, it’s an event you don’t want to miss.

Keeping safe at university

We’re proud to be one of the safest universities in the UK (according to the 2018 Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey) but it’s still important for you to take precautions to look after yourself while on and off campus. 

Our professional security team are here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, working to keep you safe. Their team of more than 50 staff offer a range of services, including:

  • Mobile and foot patrols of campus areas. You’ll be able to spot the team in their red, high-visibility jackets or marked cars, throughout the day and night. If you see them out and about, say hi and don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
  • CCTV monitoring. Both our Whiteknights and London Road campus are equipped with an extensive CCTV network, streaming to the 24 hour control centre located in Whiteknights House.
  • Chaperone Service. If you’re walking through campus at night, you can ask Security to keep an eye on you through their cameras (our ‘Hawk Eye’ service) or meet you in person to walk you to your accommodation or car. Find out more online.
  • Security advice. The team have produced extensive advice on topics such as personal safety, vehicle safety, bicycle safety and more. Do take the time to familiarise yourself with this advice on our website.
  • Safe cycling. Many of our students and staff use bikes to get around and our Security team have produced a safe cycling webpage, providing hints and tips on how to keep your bike safe and well maintained.


Your personal security – top tips

  • Save the following useful telephone numbers to your mobile phone:
    • Campus Security: 0118 378 7799
    • Campus Security – for emergencies: 0118 378 6300
    • Emergency Services: 999
    • A registered local taxi service (Yellow Cars work with RUSU on their Safe Taxi Scheme – see below)
  • Avoid being out on your own after dark and, if you are, stick to well-lit streets
  • Let your friends known when you are going out, where you are going and roughly what time you expect to be back
  • Organise your journey home, either with a friend or in a registered taxi if you are out late at night
  • Register for RUSU’s ‘Safe Taxi Scheme’ to get home safe if you run out of cash
  • If you feel threatened or in danger, call the Security team
  • Report any incidents or suspicious behaviour to the Security team (by phone on 0118 378 7799 or by email at


Street Support Scheme

Our Street Support Scheme aims to help you feel safe and supported in the local area when socialising at night. The team works in the residential streets around campus between 10am and 4am several nights a week, primarily based:

  • in the streets between Upper Redlands Road and London Road
  • in the streets between Bridges/Wessex Halls and Wokingham Road
  • in the streets between Northcourt Avenue and Christchurch Green.

They’re highly trained and wear branded University of Reading jackets so do say ‘hi’ if you see them around.


CallMy alert

We’ve launched, CallMy Alert, a mass notification app as part of our continuing investment into making our campuses safe places to study and work. CallMy Alert is free to download in Apple, Android and Windows app stores and will enable us to alert our students and staff about any significant threats to life and safety on campus.

To download the app, visit your app store and search ‘CallMy alert’. After installation there is a simple verification process to follow and you’ll need to add the group name ‘UoRalert’.

Blackboard has a new look!

In response to staff and student feedback, we’ve been working to improve Blackboard’s look, feel, accessibility and the experience of our staff and students when using it. 

The new login page looks different, but use your university username and password to log-in as usual. On logging in, you will find yourself on the My Blackboard tab where you will find your modules, your organisations, relevant announcements and module evaluation surveys. You will also see three other tabs:

  • Your school portal tab – with information posted for you by your school.
  • Blackboard Help – for help on using Blackboard including submitting assignments online and accessing your marks and feedback.
  • My Files – a file-sharing area where you can store documents and share with others inside Blackboard.

What will I need to do before logging in for the first time? Before logging in, you will need to clear the browsing data from the web browser you use to search the internet, e.g. Chrome, Firefox. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this means or how to do it – follow the link below for instructions for your browser.

If you experience any difficulties or need any help as a result of these improvements, please contact IT by emailing

Choosing your optional modules? Have you considered learning a language?

If you have 20 spare credits, why not boost your job prospects by adding to your skillset, and learning a language?

The Institution-Wide Language Programme (the IWLP) offers credit modules in 10 languages, alongside whatever you are studying for your main degree programme.   Learn how to communicate in the language of your choice, whether you are learning from beginner level, or improving one you have studied before.  Gain an insight into the culture of the countries where the language you are studying is spoken and an appreciation of people from different cultural backgrounds.   Enjoy the small group teaching and regular feedback, and take advantage of the buddying schemes.  Mix with students from across the campus, and widen your horizons.  There may even be an opportunity for a short placement overseas.

Choose from Arabic, British Sign Language, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian or Spanish!

The reality is that speaking another language not only boosts job prospects but also allows you to connect with another culture…. As the UK comes to reposition itself on the world stage, language skills matter now more than ever.  (Vicky Gough, British Council, 2016)


Top up your degree: Learn a language.

Visit us at the Module Fair on Tuesday 25 September or at our Information point on Wed-Fri of Welcome week in EM 230. Come along to a language taster – see for details.

To enrol, credit students should log into RISIS and select their modules using the Module Browser.  Non- credit students should apply through

For general information, please email

Tips on living in private student accommodation

Your accommodation and home environment is really important to you and your experience at University. Many students choose to live in University halls, live in private accommodation or even commute from home, and so there is no single correct route to where your accommodation should be, it depends on what suits you!

If you do decide to live in the local community in private accommodation, here are some useful tips:

Be a proactive tenant
Make sure that the property that you are renting is how you expected it to be when you sign your contract. If amenities are broken or if the house is not to the standard it should be, be proactive in making sure that you let your letting agency or landlord know. A good tip is to be familiar with your housing contract and paper-trail your communications via email when sorting out issues so that you can keep track of agreements and conversations.

Be nice neighbours
Introducing yourself and being nice to your neighbours goes a long way when you first move into your own private student accommodation, particularly if the people living next to you are not also students like yourselves. A few very easy measures can help you get to know your neighbours: go round and knock on the door and introduce yourselves when you first move in, remember to say ‘hello’ if you pass them in the street or even let them know if you’re planning on having a house party in advance.

“My biggest top tip for when you move into private accommodation is to make an active effort with your neighbours, go and knock on their door and introduce yourselves (whether they’re students or not!). A little courtesy goes a very long way, especially when you accidentally set the fire alarms off at 2AM trying to make a late night snack…”
Jack Abrey, student

There is no escaping the fact that you will have to get involved with setting up and keeping track of utility bills. This could include electricity, gas, water or internet but double check to see whether any of these are included in your rent first. Before you create an account make sure you discuss with any housemates who is responsible for ensuring that bills have been paid and how you will pay the bills.

Chores don’t have to be a bore
Keeping your home clean and tidy doesn’t have to be a boring duty. Why not create a weekly rota with your friends so that you don’t have to think about tidying every single week? When it is your turn, why not break it down into days for each job, such as the hoovering on one day and then taking out the bins on another (check when your bin collection day is!). Also, creating a music playlist with energetic tunes can be great at motivating you when you’re completing your chores.

Home away from home
To help you settle in make sure you bring some home comforts to decorate your room with. This could be a cushion, rug, desk lamp or alarm clock. You could also bring some photos of family and friends, but do be careful how you affix them to walls and other surfaces so they do not mark anything!

“I have learnt two things: 1) Do not put bluetac on the walls your landlord will charge you and 2) You can’t put glass in the recycling bin, you have to drop it off at a bank so DON’T let them build up right to the end of the year- sort them out often!”
Kate Robinson, student

Personal space and respect
Having to share a house with other people can be tiring and often make you feel overwhelmed or crowded. If you find that your housemate wants a bit of personal space or peace and quiet, respect their wishes and leave them be. It’s always a good idea to think of others, particularly if you’re coming back home late at night and you don’t want to disturb or wake them. Equally, if you haven’t had a chat with a housemate for a while, why not catch up over lunch or cook a Sunday roast dinner together (you could even make this a weekly occurrence such as Friday fish and chips or Saturday steak night!) This way, you can catch up with housemates regularly without being in each other’s way.


Bilingualism Matters@Reading event

Come and share free pizza with the Bilingualism Matters@Reading team to find out about all our amazing volunteering opportunities!



Palmer G01-G02


Bilingualism Matters@Reading…

Are you interested in languages and community engagement?

Would you like to volunteer for a lively research centre?

Would you like to be part of an international network with branches all around the world?

If the answer is yes, then look no further:

Bilingualism Matters@Reading is the place for you!

We are the outreach branch of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) and our goal is to bridge the gap between researchers and the community by providing information and training on bi-multilingualism. We do so by organizing events that are informative, useful and fun for different groups of people. We mostly work with multilingual families, school teachers and speech and language therapists. Our activities range from video interviews to training sessions to arts-and craft workshops.

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