Student Services News

News from the Student Services Centre (Carrington Building)

Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

The latest on study space

The £40 million refurbishment of the University Library continues this year, and we’re edging ever-closer to our expected completion date of autumn 2019!

As the project moves into its final phases, we’re looking forward to the benefits that the upgrades will bring. Our aim has been to create a more comfortable and sustainable study environment, with additional study space, improved accessibility and security, new heating and ventilation, and more toilet provision being key elements of this.

Some aspects, however, have been completed over the last twelve months.

What’s new this year?

  • A larger café is now open and proving very popular
  • Significant work has been completed on the Ground and First floors of the Library, which, excitingly, means that 400 study spaces are now open in these newly refurbished areas. Construction work will still need to continue on these and other floors, however, particularly to install fully accessible and more reliable lifts. This may sometimes be noisy or disruptive

Given this, we’ve ensured that the study space and services arrangements in Library@URS will remain in place for the whole of the 2018/2019 academic year. These URS-based arrangements include study space and most library services, Course Collection, Study Advice, Liaison Librarians, Maths Support, and the IT Service Desk. Books, other than Course Collection, remain available for borrowing in the Library Building, as before.

Investment in these core University facilities is important, but we do recognise that the process has been disruptive for current students. We understand that there is no ideal time to undertake a project of such scale, and so have worked hard, in consultation with RUSU, to provide the best alternative arrangements possible while the works take place.

We’ve listened to student feedback over the past year, and taken the following actions in response:

  • We’ve installed new study space facilities in the Edith Morley building and Palmer, to increase the overall number of spaces available (open until 10pm Mon-Fri during term-time)
  • We’ve made additional study space available in the Carrington Building and in Chemistry
  • The Library is proactively implementing an ‘anti-desk hogging’ system. If personal belongings are left unattended on a desk, please alert staff who will give you a timed warning card to place on the space whilst you use it. If the owner of the belongings returns within the hour they are entitled to the space, but if not it’s yours. This means you may leave your belongings (but don’t leave any valuables) while you visit the Library to borrow a book, or grab some refreshments in one of our cafes, while ensuring the spaces are not reserved for more than an hour when other students are looking for desks
  • Following the positive feedback on the Study Space map, we’ve published an updated version online and will be installing it at various prominent locations around campus. It is an easy way to see where study space is located across the University

Other key resources, in addition to the Study Space map, are also available to make it easier to find a suitable space to study:

Opening hours

During term-time, Library@URS is open:

Mon-Fri: 24 hours

Sat: Open until 21.00

Sun: Open from 08.30

The Library Building is open as follows during term-time:

Mon-Sun: 09.00-22.00

We want to thank you for your patience during this process and we hope you find the improvements this year useful. For more information on any of the above, please visit www.reading.ac.uk/study-space.

Hello Neighbour

Do you know who your neighbours are?

Despite the fact that we live right next to them, our neighbours can often remain complete strangers to us. While it’s unlikely that they’ll ever become our best friends, it’s definitely worth developing and maintaining good relationships with them.

Little things can go a long way when it comes to keeping your neighbours happy – whether it be giving them a heads up when planning a party, or even making sure you’re putting your bins out correctly.

This term, look out for handy information packs that we’ll be sending you, full of advice and tips for living in a student household and keeping a good relationship with your neighbours. Packs will also include a card that you can post through their door with an optional message to introduce yourself.

We can’t choose our neighbours, but there’s plenty we can do to make sure we get along with them.

Remember that if you have any problems or concerns regarding a neighbour, you can get in touch with the Community Relations Team at community@reading.ac.uk. You can also contact RUSU’s Advice Service by emailing advice@rusu.co.uk.

November events with Reading International

This month, Reading International are holding two events worth a visit! Find out more details below.

Redundant as eyelids in absence of light: Great Hall, London Road Campus. 15 November, 7pm

As part of Reading International’s ‘A reproduction of three weeks in May 1970’ organised by NOVEL, there will be a lecture and a performance of ‘Redundant as eyelids in absence of light’.

Details

Redundant as eyelids in absence of light.
Translator’s Endnotes
A lecture by Studio for Propositional Cinema

&

RECITAL: Redundant as eyelids in absence of light.
A concert by Studio for Propositional Cinema (libretto) and Hampus Lindwall (organist/interpreter

Book here 

 

Finding Folk: Museum of English Rural Life, 20 November, 7pm

A sonic performance for MERL: A Folk Late by Jeff Morton. Composer and musician Jeff Morton will lead a workshop in which participants explore, create, and present sounds collected in and from rural settings.

Find out more and book here.

Reading International is Reading’s new contemporary visual arts organisation promoting exhibitions, shows, film screenings and more. You can find out more about them here

Meeting your Academic Tutor… What are the Benefits?

Have you met with your Academic Tutor yet?

As your key point of contact for all things relating to your course, your Academic Tutor is a valuable source of information and advice, and it is important that you meet with them at least once each term to discuss your academic progress and development.

Why exactly are these meetings so important?

Your Academic Tutor is there to ensure that you are getting the most out of your studies, and that you have a clear idea of what you can do to develop further. During your meetings, your Academic Tutor can help you set goals for your academic and personal development, aid you with decisions relating to your course, and connect you with other academics in your field of study. They can also direct you to other University services where appropriate, as well as help you take full advantage of the development opportunities available to you.

To make the most of your meetings, we recommend giving some thought to what you might like to talk with them about, as well as having some questions ready to ask. Topics you might want to address could include:

  • Choosing your optional modules
  • Understanding assessment marks and feedback
  • Reviewing the year and setting goals
  • Recognising your strengths and identifying areas for improvement
  • Career/further study options

Your Academic Tutor can advise you on a wide range of topics relating to your studies and life at the University, and we strongly recommend meeting with them regularly to discuss your progress. If you’re not sure what to talk about in your meetings or how best to prepare, take a look at the Online Toolkit for some ideas to get you started. You can also find an Academic Tutor meeting template to help you keep a record of what you speak about and track your progress.

If you’re unsure who your Academic Tutor is, you can find out by logging into RISIS, selecting ‘Programme and Modules’, then ‘Programme Information’. You can also contact your Support Centre.

Click here for more information on what your Academic Tutor can help you with, and to take a look at some frequently asked questions.

Tips for Renting Private Accommodation

Arranging housing is rarely an easy task, especially if you haven’t done it before, and it can feel like an overwhelming process. Here are a few tips to help you out when looking for private rented accommodation during your studies:

Take Your Time

It’s important when looking for housing not to feel rushed into a decision. Once a contract has been signed it’s very difficult to go back, so it’s vital that you have all the information you need before formally agreeing to anything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and consider your options carefully.

Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of a contract before signing it. Check out RUSU’s Housing Contract guidance for more details on the information that you should be provided with before signing any kind of housing contract.

Unfortunately, students can be popular targets for rental fraud. This occurs when a person is tricked into paying a fee for a property which may not actually exist, or may not be owned by the person asking for the fee. RUSU have some excellent advice on how to detect this sort of scam.

If you have a Tenancy Agreement that you’re not sure about, the Advice Service can offer you Housing Advice and also offer a Tenancy Agreement Checking Service.

Have Relevant Documents Ready

Right to Rent checks must be made for all tenants over the age of 18 before the start of a new tenancy. You have the right to rent if you are:

  • A British citizen
  • An EU or EEA citizen
  • A citizen of another country with no time-limit on your permission to live in the UK

International students have the right to rent, but often only for a limited time if there is a time restriction on their permission to stay in the UK.

For more information on Right to Rent checks and what documents you may need to provide, click here.

Know your Rights and Responsibilities

When you enter into a contract with a landlord, you are both agreeing to fulfill a set of obligations to one another, and it’s important that you have a clear idea of what these are. Your landlord’s obligations will include things like the completion of annual gas safety checks and the protection of your deposit in a government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. As a tenant, you will be obligated to respect and look after the property, as well as paying your rent on time and reporting any disrepair.

Take a look at this detailed guide for more information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Communicate with your Housemates

You’ll have a lot of important things to navigate with your housemates throughout the year, so good communication is vital. Arguments do happen and sometimes tensions will run high, but there are things you can do early on in your tenancy to ensure that disagreements are kept to an absolute minimum.

Decide early on whether there will be a cleaning rota, and what this will look like. Will you create a list of general house rules? Decide how you will pay the bills, and figure out a fair system when it comes to paying for communal household items such as cleaning products. It may help to create an informal written agreement between your housemates at the beginning of your tenancy to refer back to when needed.

 When in doubt…

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – there are plenty of resources available to provide you with guidance if you’d like help understanding the terms of your contract, or advice on how to deal with disputes.

RUSU’s Advice Service have created a comprehensive guide to living in a student house which covers a range of topics, from managing disagreements with your housemates to knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

For more information and advice on renting private accommodation, please contact RUSU’s Advice Service on 0118 378 4100 or email at advice@rusu.co.uk.

Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German and French native speakers needed!

Want to meet up with some Home students to practise your English*, and help them with their IWLP Spanish/ French/ Italian/ Chinese/ German?
Join our IWLP Tandem @ Reading and spend just 1 hour a week improving your fluency with a new friend!

*You might also be able to practice a different language with an international student
Any questions, please contact: ali.nicholson@reading.ac.uk

Apply for Spanish
Apply for Italian
Apply for Chinese
Apply for German
Apply for French

 

5 Tips for Writing an Excellent Essay

Having a big essay to write can feel overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to start when you find yourself staring at a blank screen.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, check out these top five essay-writing tips from the Study Advice Service:

  1. Start writing early: writing helps you to think through your ideas
  2. Begin with your conclusions.  When you are clear what the assignment is asking you to do, jot down what you think your conclusions will be. This will help you guide your research and reading.  You can adjust your conclusions as you go along, in the light of new information
  3. Academic writing should be clear and concise – not full of long words and complex sentences.
  4. Including your own viewpoint is shown through the choices you make – the evidence you select, how you interpret the evidence, and how you link it to your answer. Your own view will shine through in the way you use your sources, you don’t need to say ‘I think…’.
  5. Excellent essays are always edited essays: revise, cut out anything unnecessary, and check for errors.

The Study Advice Service have study guides on essay writing, as well as short video tutorials to help you get started.

For even more inspiration, the next study advice seminar, ‘Writing an Excellent Essay’, will take place on Wednesday 31 October from 2-3pm in Edith Morley, Room G25. There’s no need to book, just come along on the day.

Exam arrangements with the Disability Advisory Service

If you have, or suspect you may have a disability, get in touch with the disability team before Monday 11 February 2019 to make special arrangements.

What are special exam arrangements?

Special exam arrangements are put in place to support students with disabilities, long-term medical conditions, mental health or specific learning difficulties and aim to ensure that these students are not disadvantaged as a result of their condition.

Depending on your support needs, arrangements could include being allowed to sit your exam in an alternative location away from the main cohort of students, permission to use a computer, rest breaks or extra time. You can find more examples of special arrangements here.

New to the service?

How do I know if I’m eligible?

If you are not sure about what counts as a disability or whether you’re eligible for special exam arrangements, please get in touch with us on 0118 378 4202 or by emailing disability@reading.ac.uk. If you’re on campus, you can also visit the DAS reception the ground floor of the Carrington building between 10am and 4pm, Monday – Friday, and we’ll be happy to help.

How do I apply?

Visit the Disability Advisory Service in the Carrington Building to register.

Already registered with the Disability team?

As you have registered with the University’s Disability Advisory Service, you are eligible to apply for special exam arrangements. It is important that you apply for exam arrangements as soon as possible before the deadline on Friday 9 February 2019 to ensure these can be confirmed and put in place prior to the start of your exams. You can apply for these arrangements by getting in touch with the team on disability@reading.ac.uk . A Disability Adviser will then work with you to identify any reasonable adjustments that could be recommended for your exams, taking into account the information you have provided from your doctor, medical specialist or specific learning difficulties assessor.

If you already have special exam arrangements in place, or have already spoken to a Disability Adviser about the arrangements you would like, you do not need to apply again.

If your support needs change at any time during your course or you have any queries, please do contact us as soon as possible on 0118 378 4202 or at disability@reading.ac.uk

Are you an MPhil/PhD student?

Please submit your completed registration form and medical evidence, then book an appointment with a Disability Advisor. At your appointment the Advisor will look at how adjustments can be made to support your studies.

Student Support: What’s on Offer?

Your time at university can be a lot of fun – but it can have its stressful moments, too. Whether you find yourself missing home, overwhelmed by the demands of your course, or dealing with other issues impacting your day-to-day life or studies, it’s important to know that you don’t have to deal with it alone – we are here to help! If you’re in need of support, advice, or just someone to talk to, there are many services the University has to offer. Here are just a few:

Support Centres

Our Student Support Centres are staffed by Student Support Coordinators who have been trained to give advice on a range of academic and non-academic issues. You don’t need to book an appointment, just stop by during opening hours and there will be someone available to assist you.

Term Time Opening Hours: 8.30am – 5pm

Vacation Period Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm

For advice on course-specific issues, find out where your Student Support Coordinator is based here.

Student Welfare Team

The Student Welfare Team are able to offer advice on a wide range of personal and welfare issues.

You can contact the team online via Me@Reading, take advantage of their walk-in service, available from 10am-4pm in the Carrington Building, or book an appointment with the Student Services Reception staff or a Student Support Coordinator. Find out more.

STaR Mentors

Undergraduate and International Foundation Programme students are automatically assigned a mentor before they start.

STaR Mentors are current students who have been trained to help new students settle in to life and study at Reading. If you have questions about life at the University, or are unsure of what to expect, your StaR Mentor is there to help you!

Contact starmentors@reading.ac.uk for enquiries.

Counselling and Wellbeing Service

Based in Carrington on the Whiteknights campus, our Counsellors, Wellbeing Advisors and Mental Health Advisors help students to manage a wide range of issues. Our team can provide 1-2-1 support, as well as advise students on NHS and local support available to them. They can be found on the first floor of the Carrington Building, Room 106.

This service is free of charge and open to all students who are currently registered at the University. Find out more or book an appointment.

Life Tools Talks

Life Tools is a programme of free talks designed to help students develop practical skills to help with a range of challenges, including time management, strengthening resilience and even how to get a good night’s sleep.

There is no need to book a place for a Life Tools talk – simply turn up. For more information and advice, take a look at the Life Tools Blog.

 

Study Support Services

The University has a number of services to help you achieve your full potential.  Whether you want to improve your study skills, make better use of library resources, support your studies with peer-assisted learning sessions, or even receive maths support, we can help you to find what you’re looking for.

RUSU Academic Advice is also a wonderful resource if you have any concerns about your course – click here to find out more.

RUSU Advice Service

The RUSU Advice Service is free and confidential, providing advice on housing, welfare and money as well as academic advice and drug and alcohol support.

Come to RUSU’s main reception to book an appointment, or drop in with an enquiry.

Academic Tutors

Your Academic Tutor is a key point of contact for you throughout your time at Reading, supporting your academic, personal and professional development. They are here to support you, working with you to make decisions in relation to your course and make the most of the development opportunities available to you.

To find out more about the role of your Academic Tutor and how they can assist you, click here.

Disability Advisory Service

The Disability Advisory Service provides guidance and assistance to students with any disability, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty. Assistance can be given in many ways, from providing information on funding for study support to liaising with tutors on reasonable adjustments, such as alternative modes of assessment.

If you are unsure what support you are eligible for, you can find further information here.

For full details on all of the services available to support you through your time at Reading, click here.

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.

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