UCL News


How are your students settling in?

19 November 2015

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing recently published an article in myUCL, the weekly student enewsletter, about settling in at UCL (

Students org.uk/UAA-3RAIU-JVJGEE-1TU7U3-1/c.aspx">6 tips for settling in at UCL: advice to make you feel more at home).

This article has been one of the most popular in the newsletter, suggesting that students are finding it challenging to settle into university life. Findings from recent focus groups and other student feedback have also supported this view.

What can be done to help?

Feedback suggests that students need additional support in adjusting to university life and integrating into the UCL community.

In the run up to Christmas, Student Support and Wellbeing often finds students face further challenges, including increased homesickness and feelings of isolation - particularly if they have not yet managed to form a friendship group and support network in London.

Staff from UCL Student Psychological Services share some helpful tips for ways staff can support students with settling into UCL and university life.

1. Watch out for students who always seem to be isolated: coming in to lectures/seminars alone, leaving on their own, sitting on their own in the back, etc and find an opportunity to ask the student if everything is OK or liaise with Personal Tutor or relevant person within the department

2. If you notice any marked change in a student's appearance or behaviour (e.g., they regularly look tired, they have lost a lot of weight, they are restless in class), it might be worth asking them in private afterwards about how they are doing in a supportive and non-intrusive way

3. If you notice a change in attendance, enquire with the student about their mood and how they are finding the settling in process - or liaise with their Personal Tutor to do so

4. Communicate to the new students that if they don't feel happy or confident at first to give themselves some time to adjust and encourage them to speak to you or other relevant staff about any difficulties they are experiencing with the work

5. When in contact with students, acknowledge in a casual manner that it can feel unfamiliar to come and talk to staff - for family or cultural reasons some students may find it more daunting - whilst being clear about boundaries and what is and is not possible, keep it firm and friendly

6. Remind the student that it can take a while to settle in to uni life and not to be too hard on themselves when they find it is not happening as fast as they would like. To help them settle, staff could suggest the following:

  • Keep in touch with friends at home but also begin to make new friends at UCL
  • To make those friendship links find a Society that you are interested and join it, join the Volunteering Unit - a great way to make new friends and do some good work.
  • Get the balance right between your academic studies and socialising
  • Get some good sleep, being rested will help with your transition
  • If you do feel homesick, isolated or lonely, let your Personal Tutor know so they can help you

UCL Student Psychological Services are running a pilot series of personal development workshops and talks for UCL students that will be running on weekday afternoons and evenings throughout the academic year.  The workshops, titled Being@UCL, aim to help students get the most out of their time at UCL: to help them to draw on their strengths and talents, and to give them the confidence they need to meet the emotional challenges of university life as they come up. 

If you feel a student could benefit from one of these workshops, please refer them to the Student Psychological Services workshops webpage.

Sinéad Dennehy, International Student Adviser, Student Advisory and Events Services