Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

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by Jo Lewis, PAL Manager

You’ll probably notice something called ‘PAL’ on your timetable, or maybe you heard about it during Block Zero.

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a student-to-student support scheme which helps you with your transition to university, in particular:

  • engaging with your course
  • connecting with your peers
  • increasing your academic confidence and resilience
  • developing good study habits

Online PAL sessions are delivered by second and third students, known as PAL Leaders. They won’t be teaching you, but will facilitate interactive group study sessions giving you the opportunity to ask questions about university life, expectations, course content, online learning and much more!

You’ll also be able to share ideas about assignments, projects and exams – all this in a friendly and collaborative online learning environment. So don’t miss out, you never know, you may go on to be a PAL Leader in the future too!

If PAL doesn’t appear in your timetable and you would like to connect and collaborate with peers, why not attend our online Resilient U PAL sessions? For more information about these student-led sessions, view the Events Diary.

For more information, visit our PAL webpage.

Worried about settling in and making friends?

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by The Feel Good Team

Moving to university is a massive change and can feel pretty intense. Loads of our new students tell us they feel worried about settling in and making friends, which is completely normal. So we’ve put together some top tips on how to get involved and make friends.

Smile and say ‘Hi’

Simple, but it can make all the difference! Introduce yourself and smile – whether it’s your new flatmates, new classmates, or people at an activity. Even just having one or two nice conversations helps you to feel more confident and less worried – so be the one that breaks the ice first!

Food with your flatmates

Everybody needs to eat, and it’s a perfect way to do something together and get to know who you’re living with. Whether it’s navigating your way to the local supermarket together, ordering a takeaway, or making pasta and pesto, it’s a good way to chat and have a laugh. You can even get your whole flat involved for a pizza night.

Lacking confidence in the kitchen? Check out our Cooking up a storm blog post for tips!

HallsLife

If you’re living in halls, then there will be loads of fun stuff going on, including online activities, run by HallsLife. This is a great way to get to know people living in your flat and in your halls. This also encourages a bit of friendly competition with other halls too, which can be fun.

Find your society

With thousands of students, we have clubs and societies that suit everybody! Signing up for activities, clubs, teams or societies is a great way to meet other new students who have similar interests to you.

Get involved

Find out what’s going on across the university and get involved! The Students’ Union is a great place to meet other students and they have loads of virtual and face to face events coming up! You can also connect with others via the HallsLife and Feel Good Facebook pages and Freshers groups.

Cooking up a storm at University

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by the Feel Good Team

What is Feel Good?

The Feel Good programme is based on healthy behaviours for your wellbeing. We believe in empowering you to make healthy choices and run events throughout the year to help you relax, eat well, get active and try new things.

Eat well

We all love eating out and getting food delivered (especially after months of lockdown) and it can be fun whilst you are settling in and meeting new people.

But it can get expensive and unhealthy pretty quickly, so try and balance it with some healthy, home-cooked meals too. Making sure you’re eating some wholesome, balanced meals is so important to keep your energy levels up, keep you feeling good and well.

Once you’re settled in, cooking in your accommodation can also be a great way to get to know your new housemates. Whether you’re cooking group meals together, or doing your own thing – it’s a chance to socialise and get to know your new housemates.

Our top tips for cooking at university

  1. Bulk cooking is cheaper than cooking one meal at a time. Make a big dish of something like pasta or chilli, store it in the fridge and you’ve got a quick, easy and delicious lunch or dinner whenever you need it.
  2. Pick the no-fuss stuff. Buying the supermarket’s ‘own brand’ items wherever possible will save you so much money. You pay so much extra for branded items and it doesn’t taste that different – so shop smart.
  3. Buy it dry. Stock up on dry rice, pasta and own brand cereal. They aren’t very expensive, they’ll last ages and can be used as the basis of loads of different meals.
  4. Multipacks means more. Whilst multi-packs might cost more upfront, you’ll save lots in the long run. For example, a bag of crisps or a Diet Coke can set you back around £1 for just one from a small convenience store or a vending machine. But in supermarkets, you can normally get a multi-pack of 6+ for just double that price.
  5. Don’t forget the seasoning! When you start cooking away from home you might find your food tastes so bland… That would be seasoning! Salt and pepper, basic seasoning and spice mixes are cheap and make a world of difference to your dishes.
  6. Ice ice baby…If you want to buy meat or fish it can be a lot cheaper from the freezer section (just make sure you have a freezer in your accommodation before you buy it). Meat-free alternatives like Quorn can sometimes also be cheaper, and they are high in protein and low in fat too.

And did you know it’s Feel Good Fortnight? Events started on Monday and run until Sunday 4 October. See all our Feel Good Fortnight events and get involved!

Attendance and engagement with your studies

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by Student Communications

We’re introducing a new system called MyAttendance, which will allow you to record your attendance at face-to-face teaching sessions.

Record your attendance

You won’t need to use it for online teaching, including Block Zero, but for face-to-face sessions your lecturer will provide a 6 digit code which you can use to record your attendance. If you’ve already started face-to-face teaching, you’ll be asked to start using the app this week.

You can access myAttendance via the UWE Bristol app, available on both Android and iPhone.

View your attendance data

Your attendance data will be available to view on the MyEngagement system. MyEngagement allows you to see your engagement with various learning and teaching tools such as Blackboard and the library. We’ll also be able to see this data and will use it to offer you support if your engagement is low.

One of the first signs that a student may need support is a drop of engagement with their course – for example, missing a coursework deadline or not logging on to Blackboard as much as they used to. There might be many reasons for this drop in engagement – from struggling with a study skill or time management to friendship problems or homesickness.

Support during low engagement

If you’re struggling with your studies or a personal matter, it can be hard to ask for help. By noticing low engagement early, we can reach out to you and check things are OK.

We can let you know about support you might find useful, such as study skills workshops, wellbeing support or money advice – whatever you need to help you get back on track. You’ll never be penalised for low engagement, we know that different students engage in different ways – it’s simply about offering you support.

The data MyEngagement uses is information that the university already collects, such as whether you’re logging on to Blackboard, submitting coursework or using the library. The more you use UWE Bristol systems and resources, the higher your engagement score will be.

Key members of staff will be able to see your data so that they are able to step in and provide advice and support if needed and you can view the exact same data via your personal dashboard. Don’t worry, each student can only view their own data.

If your engagement falls in one of the lower categories, you might receive an email, text or phone call from us to check if you’re OK. We can let you know about support that you might find useful and you’ll have the opportunity to ask us any questions that you have.

You can log into MyEngagement using your usual UWE Bristol username and password. (Please note that the system won’t work on Internet Explorer so you will need to use Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge.) By logging on regularly you’ll be able to see whether your engagement has changed. You may even be able to pinpoint a reason for this and learn to recognise the types of things that impact on your studies.

We want to make sure your time with us is happy, healthy and successful. Research indicates that the more students are involved in their educational experience, the better they do. See you in class!

Welcoming you to Glenside campus

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We’ve been working hard to make Glenside as safe as possible for you as you start your health care studies with us.

Zones

We’ve created zones around the campus to manage the number of people in buildings, corridors and toilets at any one time. Buildings have designated entrance and exit points and if you need to move zone, you’ll need to exit one zone and enter another. Corridors are one-way and you’ll spot signage encouraging you to keep left and keep moving!

Shared spaces

We’re working on the basis of 2 metres social distancing in teaching rooms and catering spaces in line with government guidance.

Face masks, hand sanitiser and PPE

We would strongly recommend you wear a face mask when moving around inside campus buildings. You’ll spot hand sanitiser at key points. PPE will be provided for taught sessions where appropriate.

Breaks

You’re able to eat and drink in classrooms you’re taught in. Catering outlets will be open across campus, both internally and externally, with socially distanced queuing.

Please use the catering facility in the zone you will be in.

Meeting staff

Some academic staff will be hot-desking in offices but appointments with them will continue to be offered online. From w/c 14 September, the Information Point and Students’ Union will be available in The Students’ Union building. Head here for any queries you may have.

We’ve made these changes in the interest of keeping you as safe as possible, and hope you’ll respect the measures in place. In the meantime, why not spend a couple of minutes familiarising yourself with the campus map so you know where you’ll be heading on day one?

Your University Health Centre

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by Lucy, Patient Services Manager at the University Health Centre

Did you know we have our very own doctors’ surgery right in the heart of Frenchay Campus?

It’s open to all UWE Bristol students, no matter which campus you’re studying at. You can stay registered with us for your whole time at university, which means you won’t have to worry about finding another doctor as you move in your second and third year. Plus, as we work in partnership with The Old School Surgery in Fishponds, registering with us means you’ll be automatically registered with them too. Effectively you’re getting two doctors’ surgeries for one!

It’s easy to register online and registering now means that we’ll be able to get your records from your previous GP so that we’re ready to treat you if you need us. It also means you won’t have to worry about going through the registration process or finding a walk-in centre when you actually need to see a doctor – you can just book an appointment with us without all the extra hassle.

And don’t worry – you can still see your previous GP if you go home for the holidays. You’ll just need to see them as a temporary patient. It won’t affect your registration with us in Bristol and you can easily re-register with them if you move back home once you’ve finished your course.

So why register with us?

We make it really easy for you to book appointments that fit around your lectures – you can even do it online. We only book appointments up to five days in advance, which means you’ll be seen quickly – no more waiting weeks to see a doctor. And if you need to be seen urgently we’ll make sure we see you on the day, either at the University Health Centre or just up the road at The Old School Surgery.

We’ve got a great team based at the Health Centre, made up of GPs, nurses and same day Urgent Care Practitioners. We also have three Mental Health Nurses, Ciaran, Naomi and Hillary who are available to assist you with any concerns or support you might need whilst you are studying at UWE. We’re a friendly bunch and you can talk to us about anything – trust us, we really have heard it all before!

We offer all of your standard GP services, including appointments, blood tests, travel vaccines, sexual health advice and free chlamydia screening kits. We can arrange your MenACWY vaccination, which protects you against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia, if you didn’t have it before you arrived – and we really recommend that you have it. We also work in partnership with the University’s Wellbeing Service, offering you support for your mental health and wellbeing. We’ll refer you to other services in and around Bristol where required, to make sure you get all the medical help you need.

Remember that some common minor health concerns like coughs, colds, hayfever or an upset stomach don’t need to be seen by a doctor, unless they last for more than a week. Pop in to talk to your local pharmacist for advice – they’re experts who can recommend certain medications that you can take without a prescription. If the doctors’ surgery or pharmacy is closed, you can call NHS 111 for urgent medical advice.

If you’re an international student our healthcare system may be different to what you’re used to – don’t worry, we’re here to explain everything you need to know. Most services such as GP consultations and emergency treatment are free for everyone. You may need to pay for prescriptions, dental treatment and sight tests – although most students can get these at a reduced cost or free (just collect a HC1 application form from us or from the UWE Information Point). Doctors’ surgeries don’t provide eye tests or dental check ups – you can find an optician or a dentist through the NHS website.

Remember, we’re here to help you so that you can get on with your studies and fully enjoy your university experience – so register with us now!

Get registered!

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

Registering online will enable you to hit the ground running when term starts and give you access to Block Zero, your ID card and your funding.

Watch my video below or follow these simple steps to get registered!

  1. Check your personal email to find your new student email address log-in details.
  2. Log into your new student email account to access your log in details for myUWE.
  3. Log in to myUWE.
  4. Add or update your personal details.
  5. Confirm how your fees are being paid.
  6. Upload a photo for your ID card.
  7. And you’re done!

For more information about what you need to do before term starts, take a look at our pre-arrival checklist.

Money, money, money…

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by Student Money Service

70% of students say they want to be clued up on money before starting uni. So here we share some tips so you can manage your money instead of it managing you.

Create a budget

First of all, figure how much money you have coming in – from your student loan, part-time job etc. Then figure out how much is going out.

Once you’ve worked out the essentials like rent, bills, course materials, food and travel, you can turn your attention to non-essentials like eating out and entertainment. What’s important to you? Budget your non-essential spending around that. Create a budget around what really matters to you being realistic with the money you have!

Check out Blackbullion and Money Saving Expert for budgeting templates and money advice. There are loads of template budgets out there, you don’t need to create one from scratch.

Consider opening a second bank account

This may be the first time you’ve been in control of your finances, and if you’re eligible for a student loan, then you’ll get a lump sum once a term – and the temptation is to blow it! To help make your money last the term it’s for, consider opening a second bank account to pay your student loan into (and salary too). From there you can set up a standing order to your current account to pay yourself what you need each month. This could help you manage the big chunk of cash from SLC coming in each term.

Get a part-time job

Lots of students get part-time jobs to help make ends meet. As well as boosting your income it’s a great way to get some work experience for your CV. But whilst it might be tempting to take on all the hours you can get for extra money, try to find something that’s less than 16 hours a week so that your academic work doesn’t suffer. The Students’ Union at UWE have their very own JobShop where they advertise part-time jobs on campus and around Bristol.

Don’t eat away your money

Eating out and takeouts are pricy! See them as a treat rather than the norm.

Write a shopping list before going out rather than just buying what catches your eye – and don’t shop when you’re hungry, otherwise everything will look good! Try to cook and eat with your housemates when you can to save money (and washing up). Consider bulk cooking – perhaps doing a big batch of pasta so you have something for the next day.

Review your budget

The amount you pay for things can go up and down over the year. Make a note to review and tweak your budget each term.

Capitalise on all the savings

Now you’re a student you get to take advantage of loads of discounts. Get into the habit of asking wherever you go – sometimes student discounts aren’t advertised so it’s good to ask or just pop your TOTUM card down on the counter and see what they say!

Ask for help

If you can’t figure out a budget that works for you, don’t worry – we’re here to help. Ask for help before you find yourself in a pickle.

Useful websites to take things further:

Blackbullion – money modules and detailed advice

Save the Student – good advice and weekly cheat sheets

Money Saving Expert – loads of tips for uni and everyday life

Student Beans – student discount codes

How and where can I get IT support?

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by IT Services

We want you to feel confident when using IT at UWE Bristol, whether you’re studying at home, in halls or on campus, our support team has a wealth of experience and we pride ourselves on our excellent customer service.  

Advice and information online

Our IT Services webpages include a range of information with handy step-by-step guides including:

  • myUWE and Blackboard support
  • Software for your personal computer, including Microsoft Office
  • Data storage
  • Eduroam (student campus WiFi)
  • Online safety and best practice (more to come on that later!)

A good place to start is our getting started with IT at home guide, as you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to go once term starts.

If you’re unsure what IT equipment and specifications you might need for studying at home, check out our choosing IT equipment for university webpage.

Staying safe online

We want you to stay safe online so have compiled a few handy tips to help you. Whilst the UWE IT systems are safe and secure, you need to do your bit too!

  • Don’t say it won’t happen to me! Everyone is a potential victim of cyber criminals.
  • Every password you use should be strong and unique. Never share your password with anyone and remember that the University will never email or call you to confirm your password.
  • Be cautious and always think before you click, open attachments or download files in emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. Fraudsters often impersonate well known companies such as Amazon and Spotify.
  • Always use cloud storage or network drives. As a student you have access to 5TB storage space via Onedrive so try to avoid using hard disks and USB drives as these can fail and are susceptible to ransomware attacks.
  • Always lock or log off a device when you leave it, even for a moment, to keep your information safe and secure.

More information can be found on our information security webpage.

How to contact us

We’re committed to providing your IT support in the safest possible manner and, whilst our phone and email service is operating as usual, we’ve made adjustments to our face-to-face services to ensure they are COVID-secure.

Email

If you’re experiencing issues with IT or have a query, you can email itonline@uwe.ac.uk.

Telephone

If you would rather call us, our telephone support is available 24/7, 365 days a year on 0117 32 83612.

Good luck and don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Your journey starts here

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We’re stoked that you’re here. You’ve made it this far and we bet you’re raring to go.

As you’ll be more than aware, University life will play out a little differently to how you imagined so we’ll make sure you’re prepared right from the get-go. Everyone here is on hand to get to know you and support you as you journey with us.

We’re sure you’ve got lots of things you’re excited about and also some things you might like some more clarity on. During Block 0 we’ll work with you to get you on the right path for the start of term. Before that, it’ll stand you in good stead if you can get yourself set up with all things IT. Noone likes a tech fail at a critical point, so we suggest getting all the digital admin done now!

The secret to success is actually pretty simple and it’s within you. By understanding your own motivations and taking the time to be self-reflective, you’ll be able to take ownership of both yourself and your studies. We’ve spent some time bringing together insight from lecturers and support staff which will help you develop the skills you need to be in control of your future. And from there you can choose a mindset to take you forward into this new stage of life. We reckon as a year group you guys are going to come out super resilient, adaptable and ready for anything!

We’ll be posting here weekly, so keep checking back. Follow us on social for the latest updates. Did we mention we have an app? You’ll want to download that too. Just search ‘UWE Bristol’. And if you have burning questions, our Information Point advisers are ready to answer them – no question is too big or small (and trust us, they’ve heard it all before!).

More next time!