University can be a stressful time, especially if you become sick or any pre-existing conditions get the better of you. Fortunately, the Student Wellbeing team (first Floor of the Marina Building) are always there to help and offer advice — nobody should feel like they have to suffer in silence.
I myself deal with a chronic medical condition, that for the most part remains stable and does not interfere with my studies. However, from time to time, there are changes in my medication that take a while to adjust to and occasionally I can feel wiped out in the mornings.
While I have not had any major setbacks, and do not require additional support, a string of absences did lead me to explore what support is available should things take a turn for the worse. Here’s what I found …
Learning Support Plans
If like me you don’t have any outward signs of illness or disability and you don’t need help within the typical seminar/lecture/workshop environment, the idea of ‘learning support’ might seem irrelevant. However, ‘learning support plans’ cover a broad range of issues and aren’t just reserved for obvious cases.
So, if you are dyslexic, hearing or visually impaired, or need to be accommodated for a wheelchair – then the Student Wellbeing Centre should be your first port of call as soon as you start university.
When filling out your University place acceptance paperwork you will find space to include your disability or condition and this will help speed up the process.
Then the Wellbeing team can put exam requirements in place (such as extra time) and support in lectures, seminars, coursework, Library support and placement support.
Notetaking support and relevant technological and physical aids are recommended through Disabled Student’s Allowances (DSA), funded by Student Finance England which the Wellbeing team can help anyone who needs it apply for.
Even if you have a medical condition or mental health concern that doesn’t usually (but could) affect your studies, it is still wise to contact Student Wellbeing – you might still be eligible for a plan.
Think of it this way — if you will be taking days off, are prone to leaving a lecture or seminar midway through, might need extensions for assignments, or could need emergency care, then it’s only logical to have your issue on file. However, a Learning Support Plan does not mean you can skip lectures or seminars as Attendance Monitoring is still in place, and it doesn’t cover students whose attendance is below the expected level, but, you can use it to explain why absences may happen.
There is also no guarantee that extensions will be allowed as these are up to you module tutor, although the LSP may help to explain why a you may need an extension.
At the least, it means your tutors are aware and will be more sympathetic in the case of absences or poor performance.
If you feel you might need a learning support plan or a medical condition should be disclosed, send Student Wellbeing an email at email@example.com or take advantage of their drop-in service: Mon-Fri 12-2pm, Thurs 5-7pm (Term-time). The centre is located on the first floor of the Marina Building and is number 5 on the campus map.
You’ll then be advised on the next steps, which often involves getting a letter from your GP or otherwise providing some medical evidence to help with tailoring your plan.
Of course, Student Wellbeing is not just about support plans. The centre offers counselling (including helping with loss or bereavement), mental health support (for those diagnosed or only recently seeing a decline in their mental health), and a Chaplaincy service for those of any faith that need some spiritual support.
“Any information you choose to disclose to the team will be treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality.”