Student Services News

News from the Student Services Centre (Carrington Building)

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Top Tips on Being a Good Neighbour

Being on bad terms with your neighbours can make life a lot more difficult – but there are some simple things you can do to establish and maintain good relationships with them through the course of your tenancy. Here are a few tips on being the best neighbour you can possibly be:

Introduce yourself

The first step to having a great relationship with your neighbours is finding out who they are! That way it’s easier to approach one another if any issues arise. It might feel daunting to approach a neighbour directly – if the thought fills you with dread, perhaps consider posting a card through their door, briefly introducing yourself and letting them know that they can contact you in the event that they need to address any issues.

Respect your neighbours

Try to take into account your neighbours’ schedules, which may look quite different from your own. If you find yourself coming home late, try to keep noise to minimum and make sure they know that they can approach you if any problems occur. Keep your street looking like the kind of place you’d want to live – avoid littering and ensure that the exterior of your house is kept neat and tidy.

Figure out the bin situation!

Find out when your rubbish collection days are, and try not to miss them. Keeping your rubbish well contained and collected on time will avoid all sorts of nasty smells and unwelcome creatures from appearing outside your house, and your neighbours will appreciate it.

Keep your neighbours in the loop

Throwing the occasional party is fine, but try to give your neighbours a little bit of notice in advance, and make sure they know how to contact you if they need to ask you to control noise levels. Try to give them an idea of when the party will wrap up, and remind your guests to be considerate of your neighbours when they’re leaving.

If you are experiencing any problems with neighbours and would like some advice, please contact RUSU’s Housing Advice Service on 0118 378 4100 or email at advice@rusu.co.uk.

Green Festival 2018

Between the 14-16 November, the University and RUSU will be working together to host a series of events to raise awareness of green issues and what more we can all be doing to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

The festival will include tours of the University Energy Centre, a Green Careers event and Dr Bike drop-in sessions, where you can get your bike repaired for just the cost of the parts required.

Book tickets for Friday 16 November to attend a talk with Freedom Four on Low Carbon Brewing Processes, and get the chance to win two places to visit the brewery in Stafford!

You can also head over to The Dairy on London Road Campus for a talk and taste-test of a low carbon beer. Book tickets here.

Take a look at the full programme of events below:

For more information about the festival and the events that will be taking place, please visit reading.ac.uk/sustainability.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Sustainability at Reading, please email sustainability@reading.ac.uk

Week 6: Not a Half Term!

Week 6 is approaching! Use it to do all the things you haven’t had a chance to yet – from academic and careers workshops, to student activities and exploring the local wildlife. If you’re in need of some inspiration, take a look at our list of six ways you can make the most of Week 6.

  1. Your departmental events

Week 6 might mean a brief pause for your regular modules, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be things happening in your department. Expect a mix of compulsory and optional events covering careers and academic advice, opportunities to meet staff members and discuss Further Study options, field trips and more.

  1. Life Tools & Careers events. 

Now is the perfect time to reflect on how you are coping with university life, and how well-prepared you are for post-graduation life. Use this opportunity to check out the workshops you might not have had time to go to so far in the term. Sign up for careers workshops at My Jobs Online and see the full list of Life Tools talks from the Wellbeing team.

  1. Upgrade your library skills.

Whether you’re yet to take out a book, or are a journal-trawling pro, the library offers so many different resources to help you excel in your academic and research work. Check out this blog post from the Library with ten tips to try out, from accessing e-books, storing your references, to taking a break from studying to borrow one of their DVDs.

  1. Book a Study Advice session. 

These 30-minutes one-on-one sessions are tailored to your needs. Our Study Advisers aim to help you develop your own study skills to study more effectively and achieve academic success. The service is open Monday-Friday, 09:00-17:00 and you can book a session in advance by emailing studyadvice@reading.ac.uk or calling 0118 378 4242. Read more on the Study Advice website – including their online guides and tutorials.

  1. Explore the Whiteknights campus.

The University is lucky to be located at the heart of an area teeming with wildlife and natural beauty. If you’re yet to have a chance to traverse the lakes and forests, this week is the perfect opportunity. The Whiteknights biodiversity project estimates that there are over 1537 species in the area. Make sure you take in Harris Garden, a landscape garden with roots going back to the 18th century.

  1. Try out a new student society or activity. 

With over 150 societies to choose from, there is bound to something you have always wanted to try out. Meet some new people, de-stress and have fun!

 

Contact your school SSC to find out more about departmental events

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.

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