All students come to Reading with a unique set of prior experiences, which influences how they might transition or the support they might benefit from.
Below are a few considerations and areas of support that may be helpful to signpost students towards.
Socio-economic disadvantage and financial hardship
The cost-of-living crisis is impacting all students but the most affected are those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or those with additional financial burdens, such as students with dependents.
This is likely to include students who are eligible for the Reading Bursary: https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Money_matters/Bursaries-and-Awards/Reading-Bursary-202021
Hardship funding will be available again from October 2023: https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Money_matters/Funding/student-support-fund
Other sources of financial support include the Digital Support Fund which provides support specifically for the associated costs of online learning and study: https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Money_matters/Funding/Digital-support-fund
There is also a range of money advice and support including online and Reading Students’ Union specialist trained money advisors: https://www.reading.ac.uk/essentials/Money_matters/Advice
Students can be signposted to the Financial Support team for tailored advice: email@example.com
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students
A range of evidence indicates that marginalised Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students face a distinct set of challenges at university. These students may experience a lower sense of belonging and a greater likelihood of financial strain when compared to their white counterparts. Racism and micro aggressions can significantly affect belonging and attainment.
Transitioning to university can be stressful for all students but can prove especially challenging for neurodiverse students if welcome spaces and activities are not neurodiversity friendly.
Neurodiversity is not the same thing as disability but the support and wellbeing page for students with disabilities offer a wide range of support that could be useful to students on the neurodiversity spectrum.
Clarity of expectations, details and guidelines are helpful to neurodiverse students.
Care experienced and estranged Students
Care experienced students include those who have spent any time in any time spent in local authority care and estranged students are those who do have a communicative relationship with either biological parent.
University can play a transformative and empowering role in the lives of care experienced and estranged students. Common obstacles to succeeding in higher education relate to disruptions to prior learning, financial hardship and poor mental health which may result from instability and trauma.
The university has support available for care leaver and estranged students , which includes pre-entry guidance and financial support.
There is a student-led Care Experienced and Estranged Student social run during Welcome, with continued meet-ups throughout the year. The initial session in Welcome can be found on the UoR Welcome App. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or sign-posting towards later sessions.
Disabled students may have a wide variety of impairments, any of which can create challenges or additional support needs in a university setting. Students with declared disabilities are receiving lower degree results across the sector and the cost of living crisis has increased the risk of financial hardship. Some disabled students require additional support to study from home or on campus & the Disability Advisory Service are best placed to offer support and guidance.
International students face abundant barriers to a sense of belonging on university campus and the potential for marginalisation and hardship is high.
Studying in the UK is an evolving situation with complex guidance regarding travel restrictions, additional VISA regulations and adapting to a new country. International Students are also more likely to be the target of fraud.
Resources can be found in the university’s essentials website, where you will find guidance on Visas and Immigration, Brexit Guidance and Finance.
Anyone starting an undergraduate degree at 21 years of age or older is considered to be a mature student. This captures a huge range of student experiences, including those who will need to balance study with home and caring responsibilities.
The university provides advice and resources here on personal and academic concerns, study advice or employment. The Student Union also has a representative for mature students who can provide you with support.
The mature student social in Welcome Week is a useful opportunity for mature students to receive tailored advice and support.
Commuter students are those who live locally in Reading and in the surrounding areas who do not move into University or privately owned student accommodation, often opting to remain in their family homes and travel to campus for classes.
Commuter students may feel a lack of sense of belonging and inclusivity because of their different student experience. For this, we provide help and guidance through our STAR mentors, information on student socials and events in the Reading SU website and general support through our commuters website.
The commuter student social in Welcome Week is a useful opportunity for commuter students to receive tailored advice and support.
First Generation students
First-generation students are the first in their family to attend or complete higher education. One of the biggest challenges for this group is that they may have limited knowledge of how university ‘works’ and what to expect once they arrive. Our first-generation students have described in focus groups the difficulty of navigating university without a parent or sibling to pose questions to.
STaR mentoring is especially useful to first-generation students, as are the student-led guides published by RSU (awaiting link).
Tackling the hidden curriculum by providing information on ‘how university works’ and explaining higher education terminology can benefit first-generation students who may not be as prepared for academic culture as their peers.
A social is run during Welcome for students who are the first in their family to attend university. Details can be found on the UoR Welcome App available in App Stores.
The University of Reading offers scholarships to sanctuary seekers (those with refugee, humanitarian protected or asylum seeker status). These students have likely dealt with extreme personal adversity or displacement from their home countries & will have scholarship confirmed prior to entering university.
The university runs socials for these students in Welcome and throughout the year to help them connect with one another and receive tailored support. The first session can be found on the UoR Welcome App & please email email@example.com for details of further sessions.
Becky Porter (Head of Transition & Retention)
Mathew Haine ( Student Outcomes Manager)