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Reaching out for help in a time of need

How getting help from the Student Support teams and his Director of Studies helped Richard complete his studies during a difficult time.

Richard standing outside the 10 West building on campus.
Richard reached out to the Student Support team on campus.

Richard is a student on the BSc (Hons) Computer Science course at Bath.

Returning to study after a placement

Going into the final year of my undergraduate bachelor’s degree at Bath, I knew I was in for a tough year. Coming back from a placement in Bristol as a Software Engineer to my Computer Science degree meant I had to put my brain back into gear from working to learning.

I was returning to my first in-person lectures since February 2019, with late nights in the Computer Science Lab working to meet coursework deadlines. However, when my family found out that my mother’s cancer had returned at the start of September, I knew I was going to need extra support.

Asking for help

Once I had processed some of the shock, I reached out to arrange an appointment with the Wellbeing Service, one of many teams under the University’s Student Support department.

Each of these teams employs fantastic, friendly, and knowledgeable staff who are there simply to support the students at the University. Based remotely and in the Roper Centre next to the 4 West café, the service offers both in-person and virtual appointments that deal with a range of issues.

I was first made aware of their offerings through my Director of Studies in my first year. They gave time in a lecture for an adviser to speak and to remind us that sometimes we will need support, and the University can provide it if we reach out.

Accessing support services

Reaching out to ask for help can be very tough but I knew that it was an important first step to helping myself cope with the challenges ahead of me and my family. My appointment with the Wellbeing Service went well and they helped to signpost me to more of the services I could access, namely Therapeutic Services and the Disability Service.

With help of the University’s Therapeutic Services team, I accessed six weeks of talking therapy through Off The Record, a Bath-based charity which helped me to manage my anxieties about final year and my mother’s health. The Disability Services team helped me to create a Disability Action Plan (DAP) and go on to apply for Disabled Students Allowance as a full-time, UK undergraduate student. While helping me with my needs, the staff were endlessly supportive and understanding.

Receiving academic support

On reviewing my DAP, my Director of Studies allowed me to take breaks in exams and assured me that coursework extension requests would be simplified. They also signposted me to the Students' Union Advice and Support team. They helped me complete an Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMC) form which will make sure the University takes my circumstances into account when issuing my final grade.

Advice for prospective students

Unfortunately, good pastoral support is sometimes forgotten about when prospective students research universities but it’s very important to consider, as you don’t know when you might need it. Support for every aspect of life while at the University of Bath is available and free to access, you only need to ask.