It might sound cheesy but I can honestly say that I’ve had the time of my life at Newcastle University. I’ve made the best friends, had so many new and wonderful experiences, fallen in love with the city and my passion for my degree subject has grown. Whilst I have had the best of times that doesn’t mean that everything has been plain sailing, which is when it really matters that your Uni is a supportive one. Here are a few of the ways I have felt supported by Newcastle University over the years.
Supported through… Pre Uni Worries
One of the things I was most nervous about before coming to University was food. It wasn’t the usual student worries about how much is too much pasta or how can you tell when chicken is cooked through. I was nervous because I have a severe allergy, just before coming to Uni I had ended up in the hospital twice due to anaphylactic shock. My allergy was incredibly sensitive so I was worried about cross contamination of my food whilst in halls.
In the end, I contacted the accommodation team and ask if anything could be done. They informed me that the University would happily provide me with a mini fridge to store my food in, which I could keep in my room. It was such a relief that they took my allergy seriously and were supportive, providing me with what I needed. I’d definitely recommend contacting the Uni before you arrive if you have any concerns.
My mini fridge provided by the University
Supported through… Health issues
At the beginning of my second year, I underwent major spinal surgery. I was in the hospital for two weeks, off Uni for six weeks and when I eventually returned it took me the best part of the year to fully recover. It took a lot out of me physically and emotionally but thankfully the Uni was very supportive. As I couldn’t walk far, the Uni organised and paid for Taxi’s to take me to and from lectures. This was a relief as I physically could not have made it in without a Taxi but would have struggled to afford it on my own. I met with my personal tutor regularly and she helped me to fill in PEC forms (Personal Extenuating Circumstances forms) which enabled me to get extensions on my work and for the examiners to take my surgery into account when they gave me my final grade. My lecturers kept in touch to see how I was doing and to let me know what I was missing. When I eventually came back to campus they were so pleased to see me and very supportive, reminding me not to rush myself and to concentrate on building my strength up.
Stood outside of the hospital on my graduation day, remembering what I’ve overcome.
Supported through… Stress and Anxiety
By my third year, I was fully healed and thought I had seen the last of PEC forms. However, during the final semester, I had a number of struggles with stress and anxiety. I went to see my tutor about an assignment I was really struggling with and she quickly realised that something was wrong. When she asked me if I was sure I was okay I broke down in tears. She encouraged me that I should take my time and apply for an extension. It was a relief to know she cared about my wellbeing more than my assignments and that she was there to give me the support I needed. The extension gave me time to clear my head and I managed to submit the assignment a week or two later.
The amazing feeling of finally handing in an assignment!
When I first heard about PEC forms I decided to avoid them at all costs. I wanted to pass my degree in my own strength and thought that using a PEC form would undermine my sense of achievement. I have learnt that it is never a sign of weakness to ask for help and that passing your degree isn’t about doing it in your own strength. There is more to life than your degree, extensions and examiner’s discretion are there to ensure that you don’t lose out because of something outside of your control.
I asked a few friends how they had felt supported by Newcastle University, here are their responses:
‘My family has been in quite a tricky spot for a few months, with many concerns about our future, job, where we are going to be. Dr Andrew Shail (Postgraduate Senior Tutor) was great, having someone to talk to and open up about everything was invaluable. It helped me to claw my way back up and continue with the course’.
‘Surprisingly, I felt really supported when I dropped off [my course], the Careers Service was really great at helping me consider my next steps even though I wasn’t technically a student anymore, and my faculty staff worked really hard to make sure they were aware and supporting my pastoral needs!’
‘Without the financial support and bursaries Newcastle University offered, I wouldn’t have made it through Uni. The level of support in this area was far greater than any of the other Universities I considered applying too. Such support meant I felt I could truly enjoy my Uni experience. Also, whenever I had an issue with finance the team at Student services always gave me a friendly, quick and clear answer’.
A supportive environment really is paramount when choosing where to study. Getting a degree isn’t a quest you complete on your own; you need all sorts of people to support you on your way there, support I have found at Newcastle.