University Tips Blog
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A headshot image of the author, Jon Cheek

by Jon Cheek


posted on 29 May '23

A guide to university student support services

Text provided by Fatmata K Daramy for the UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University 2023, whilst Fatmata was in post as the Widening Participation and Student Success Manager at The University of Law

Universities support students in a myriad of ways - both financially and pastorally. The following article will outline the ways in which they do this.

It is important to note that support will differ between institutions. I would encourage prospective students to visit university websites to gain an understanding of the services which can be provided.

Bursaries and scholarships

To address the financial concerns some students might have in attending university, there are a range of bursaries and scholarships. In general, a scholarship is awarded based on a student’s merit e.g., if they have achieved specified grades before attending university. In contrast, bursaries are usually allocated based on financial need.

Some universities, including The University of Law, provide bursaries for students who fit specific household income criteria. These bursaries might not need to be applied for, as some universities will automatically allocate the funds to students.

Image to illustrate support towards steps to success

Widening participation support

Widening participation students are identified as students who are underrepresented in higher education. This includes, but is not limited to, mature students, students with care responsibilities, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students, disabled students, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Support can be provided to aid these students throughout their educational journey, from access to university to progression into the world of work.

Students should be encouraged to disclose such information on their application forms. This will enable universities to identify them as being in specific groups i.e., a care leaver or a student with a disability. This will ensure that the students receive the support that has been tailored for them. For example, The University of Law provides undergraduate estranged and care-experienced students with a financial support package as well as contextual offers to enable them to access higher education.

Student success programmes

Additional forms of support that universities offer include those directed towards student success. An example of this is peer to peer, external, or alumni mentoring. These are focused on allowing students to be able to build relationships and networks.

Finally, one unique way that some universities are providing support to students is through schemes enabling current students to co- create initiatives that aim to support student success for widening participation students. One example of this is Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) advocates or ambassador schemes. This is a paid role that enables the university to work with students who self- identify as part of the BAME community, to aid the university in supporting and empowering specific students. This scheme not only supports BAME students in general, but it empowers students to be able to create change and further support their peers.

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