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Student services and facilities
If you need help during your studies, it helps to know that institutions offer a wide range of support services to assist you with any problems you may face, including those of an academic or personal nature. You’ll find that student advisers are very understanding of the issues you face as a student (after all, that is their job) and can really provide help when you need it.
The student services and facilities will vary depending on campus size, student numbers and funding from student contributions. Large university campuses will usually offer all of the services and facilities below plus more, while smaller private institutions will offer services and facilities more tailored to their student cohort.
In this section we cover:
Study skills unit
This service gives students advice on everything academic, from tips for taking notes during lectures and researching effectively to referencing correctly and producing high-quality assignments. Some institutions employ specialist staff who can assist with areas such as mathematics or English as a Second Language. You can usually bring work or assignments with you to your appointment to get feedback or assistance.
Peer support and tutoring programs
Adjusting to student life isn’t always easy, so it’s worth looking out for peer support and mentoring programs at your institution. Many institutions run peer-assisted study sessions, which are designed for students who want to improve their academic performance and are run by students who have previously studied the relevant unit.
Disability liaison office
Students with disability can access support services such as Auslan interpreters, note takers, specialised computer programs and other equipment. The disability service can also act as liaison between staff and students to discuss a student’s requirements and arrange alterations to assessments, such as using a scribe or computer in an exam.
Trained counsellors can give confidential advice to students struggling with their studies, relationships or problems at home. You can also make an appointment to have a chat if you are having trouble adjusting to the changes that come with beginning tertiary study (such as being away from home or keeping up with an independent study schedule). This service is available without a doctor’s referral.
Careers offices provide counselling and guidance to students who are unsure of what field they want to enter after graduation and need some guidance choosing subjects, as well as final-year students looking for their first job. They may also provide advice and assistance to students seeking part-time work or work experience during their course. Most institutions offer a combination of group workshops (such as those for résumé writing and interview skills) and one-on-one sessions.
The financial services team at your institution can be seen when you need advice about budgeting, employment rights, taxation, government allowances and other financial questions or problems. Financial advisers can also assist students to obtain student loans, whether this is through the institution or a bank.
Housing service staff usually give information about on- and off-campus accommodation options for students and maintain a database or noticeboard of available rooms and properties. They may also be able to advise you about your rights as a tenant and provide assistance should you require help with a rental dispute.
Indigenous support unit
The Indigenous Support Program (ISP) is a federal government initiative that provides funding to higher education institutions to meet the needs of Indigenous Australian students. These units specialise in learning skills, outreach and cultural programs for Indigenous students and can act as a liaison with lecturers or other services.
Clubs and societies
The range of clubs and societies verges on the ridiculous, with groups for everything from environmental activism to beer appreciation and medieval re-enactment. Even if you’re studying part time and continue to work, you’ll find that many activities are organised after hours (think faculty balls, cinema screenings and sporting activities), over the weekend and during semester breaks. These are a great way to get involved and make new friends who share your interests.
Student unions are student-run organisations on campus that lobby for student rights and a range of political causes. They are the hub of student politics and offer interested students the chance to take a role in student leadership. They organise fun student events and often provide a range of services such as fun student events, advice and representation for those in need, clubs and societies, and safe spaces. Members may be eligible for special privileges such as discounts and access to union recreational areas.
Campus child care
Many institutions have childcare facilities on campus that offer subsidised rates to students and staff. Some may also offer half-day rates or discounted rates if your child attends the centre full time (five days per week). Note that some institutions use waiting lists, so it’s best to get in early. If you are unable to secure a place for your child, it’s best to contact your local council or the council where your institution is located to work out your other options.
Student health clinic
On-campus nurses can provide first-aid treatment and information and referrals on general medical and family planning matters. Students may also be able to make an appointment with a bulk-billing doctor or access dental services at a reduced cost. Larger institutions may provide access to a full team of doctors and nurses, and some institutions may also house an on-campus pharmacy.
The activities and recreation office is the place to go if you’re having trouble meeting people on campus or just want something to do between classes. They will be able to provide you with a calendar of student events (everything from sports to concerts to weekend trips) and information about getting involved. This can also be a good source for free or cheap tickets to events and they should be able to give you a heads-up on any free lunches or barbecues happening around campus.
Libraries and computer labs
Access to a well-stocked library makes it a lot easier to complete your assignments and get some quiet study done between classes. Some institutions also house faculty-specific libraries (such as for business or law) or subject-specific libraries (such as for cinema studies). Most facilities also stock plenty of fiction, magazines and even DVDs, and most allow personal internet use. Staff are on hand to answer any questions or help you locate resources and run regular sessions to assist students to develop information research skills. These generally occur at the beginning of each semester.
Computer labs are a must for completing assignments and research between your classes. You institution may even offer secure 24-hour computer labs for those night owls up late finishing assignments. You may also find that there are special computer labs set aside for certain students who require specific software (design students, for instance).
Prayer rooms and chaplains
Prayer rooms provide a quiet place for students to pray and reflect during breaks. Often chaplains are also available for students seeking spiritual guidance or just someone to talk to. You do not need to follow a certain faith to speak with a chaplain, and many institutions have chaplains from different faiths and denominations.
The great thing about being a student is that not everything is about sitting in a lecture or at a desk studying, with cheap gym memberships and sporting clubs keeping students moving between classes. Some institutions have sprawling playing fields, swimming pools and indoor stadiums that you can use at your leisure or as a member of a sporting club. Many have also have on-campus gyms for a handy workout between classes.
Women’s rooms or queer spaces
Some institutions set aside spaces for women or students of alternative sexual orientations to relax and socialise in an environment free of judgement, harassment or discrimination. These may also act as a base for organising events, demonstrations and student movements. If your institution does not have a designed women’s or queer space, enquire with the student services team as to whether you can help to start one up.
Many institutions offer specialist facilities for students in certain courses, so it is worth checking out the facilities on offer for students in your field. You may find moot courts for law students, performance and exhibition spaces for creative arts students, simulated hospital wards for nursing students, recording studios for media students and on-campus clinics for psychology students — the list goes on!
From coffee shops and restaurants to beauty salons and student travel agents, campuses may be equipped with a range of stores that mean you never have to leave the campus. The discounted student rates that these retailers typically provide are always welcome. You may also find useful services such as newsagents, pharmacies, post offices, banks and supermarkets. Some campuses may also have training restaurants, beauty schools or health clinics, where student trainees provide their services at a discounted rate.