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Getting the most out of your university's student services

Two girls sitting on stairs outside campus building

If you find yourself running out the door the minute class ends, think again. Most universities run events throughout the week where you can meet new people and mingle over cheap (or even free) food or clubs and societies to help you pursue an interest. Some universities also host their own festivals, screen films at the campus theatre or offer free breakfast to early birds. Students are now required to pay a compulsory annual student services and amenities fee, so why not get your money’s worth?

Read on to see what’s on offer at universities around Australia.

  • Events and entertainment: From free barbeques, on-campus cinemas and cheap lunch deals to week-long festivals and O-Week activities, universities try to offer students an active social calendar. If you’ve moved away from home to attend uni or don’t have much time to chat away during class, these are a great way to meet people and have some fun on campus. Some universities also organise off-campus activities such as scavenger hunts, pub crawls and faculty balls. Many of these events are organised ‘by students for students’, and student unions will usually call for volunteers at the beginning of each year.
  • Clubs and societies: Universities have endless clubs and societies ranging from drama and theatre to religious groups, political associations and competitive sports — even quidditch for loyal Harry Potter fans. No matter how niche your hobby is, it’s likely that a club exists to cater for it. Otherwise, you can always look into starting your own club. University unions encourage student involvement and will be happy to help you get started.
  • Academic and English language support services: All universities offer support services to assist students with needs such as assignment writing and research skills, as well as English language help for international students. Some universities also house dedicated learning centres for students new to academic study or offer peer-mentoring programs that pair junior students with final-year students in their course.
  • Career and employment help: If you’re on the look-out for part-time work or even a graduate job, most universities offer career and employment services to help you get started. Some universities have staff who can help you put together a résumé or improve your interview skills, while others may offer a student job search through the union website or help students gain voluntary work experience or internships. In some cases, you may be able to work on campus and gain experience while completing your degree.
  • Advisory services: Universities understand that living on a low income isn’t always easy, especially with textbooks, car repairs and social lives in the mix. Most will offer advisory services that can help you with finances, legal advice and health care. Financial help may include assistance with planning your out-of-home budget, managing debt or applying for government assistance. Some universities may also offer interest-free loans to help cover emergencies, such as essential medical expenses or an unexpected bill. Legal advice is available on most campuses and can help students with a number of issues, such as tenancy agreements. Some universities may also offer free medical advice or have a nurse on campus, who can help students with basic health care and offer advice or referrals to a local clinic.

If you’re still not convinced, be sure to visit your university’s student services centre or student union to learn more about what’s available.