Student Support and Wellbeing service provision for 2020/21

This page outlines how Student Support and Wellbeing services will be running for the 2020/21 academic year.

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Last updated 27 July 2020. The information below is subject to change as we move into Term 1 of the 2020/21 academic year. 

Support during lockdown

We recognise students may be facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). Full support remains available from UCL in the form of same-day appointments with our DMHW (Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing) team, counselling with SPCS (Student Psychological and Counselling Services) and self-help resources across our Student Support and Wellbeing site.

We also have dedicated self-isolation guidance and support for students who are self-isolating.

To make an appointment with our advisers or for any further enquiries you have or support you may need, access askUCL and a member of our team will get in contact with you.

Students struggling with their mental health at this time can also access support via the NHS and online resources from Public Health England, along with support from mental health charity Mind. Further sources of information and support are Every Mind Matters, and Young Minds for young people.

Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing (DMHW) team

Full support from our Disability Advisers, Mental Health Advisers and Wellbeing Advisers is available.

All students are able to book an appointment with an Adviser to discuss any issues that might be affecting their ability to study related to disability, mental health or wellbeing.

Students are able to book shorter appointments of up to 20 minutes on the day, or longer appointments are available, of up to 1 hour, which can be booked in advance.

Appointments take place over the phone or in a video call, whichever of these formats suits the student. There is excellent availability and students can be seen on the same day by booking a shorter appointment (see above).

Our Advisers work with the student to find practicable solutions. They will always follow up and they’re closely connected to a number of other teams within UCL and partner organisations externally.

Students can book appointments through the DMHW team with other specialist support services, including Rape Crisis for women affected by sexual violence, Gendered Intelligence for students transitioning gender, or the UCL Crime Prevention and Personal Safety Adviser.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisers provide supportive conversations and often act in a signposting capacity, pointing students to the correct support services (including our own Student Psychological and Counselling Services) and guiding them through the process of accessing support.

Disability Advisers will work with the student and their department to implement the reasonable adjustments they need and develop the Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SORA) document.

Ongoing specialist mentoring support is available for students with a long-term mental health condition or Autistic Spectrum Condition. Students can access mentoring support via referral by one of our advisers or by applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). Specialist mentoring support is available over the phone and via video calls.

Ongoing specialist study skills support is available to students with Specific Learning Difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Conditions. Students can access specialist study skills support via referral by one of our advisers or by applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). Specialist study skills support is available over the phone and via video calls.

A wide array of reasonable adjustments are available, including: extra time in exams, deadline extensions, assistive technology, and human support such as mentors (see above).

Many of these adjustments are funded by the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) – in some cases, where a student is not eligible for this, the DMHW team may be able to coordinate UCL funding.

Students can very easily make an appointment with the DMHW team through the askUCL student enquiry system.

The DMHW team manage the Student of Concern process. Staff members of other students can complete the Student of Concern form if they are worried about a UCL student’s wellbeing or safety. The form will come in to the DMHW team for assessment – DMHW will respond to the submission and will typically then try to contact the student to check on their wellbeing within 48 working hours.

Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS) team

The SPCS team offer psychological support and counselling (psychodynamic therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy, and psychiatric appointments) free of charge to all our students.

Students can easily access this support by completing an online registration form. The student will then be triaged within 24 hours and will receive an invitation to an initial consultation with a counsellor or psychiatrist. The student will then typically start either a full counselling programme ordinarily consisting of up to 6 sessions and/or psychiatric support.

Appointments with a counsellor or psychiatrist take place over the phone or in a video call, whichever of these formats suits the student.

The SPCS team work closely with Ridgmount Practice – UCL’s partner GP surgery – to ensure that students on or near to campus have full access to mental health services.

The SPCS team also assists with onward referrals where necessary.

Phone and online counselling and support

Students also have access to additional counselling or more general support for a wide array of issues over the phone or online through real-time live chat.

This support is provided on a 24/7 basis for students in the UK by partner organisation Care First.

Students overseas have access to this form of support through the Global Student Assistance Programme at any time.

Outreach team

Comprised of staff from Student Support and Wellbeing and volunteers from other Professional Services areas, our Outreach team call our students for a friendly and informal conversation to check in on their general wellbeing.

The Outreach team provide supportive information and guidance to any students experiencing mental health and wellbeing difficulties. For any issues related to the student’s academic life, the Outreach team will pass on the correct contact details within the student’s department.

Health care

SSW provides comprehensive information on how students can access health care on our website.

The team work closely with Ridgmount Practice – UCL’s partner GP surgery – to ensure that students on or near to campus have full access to health services.

Students continue to have full access to health care provided by the NHS.

Student Enquiries Centre (SEC) team

The SEC team handles student enquiries on all the main aspects of a student’s academic life and life beyond the classroom, including: letters of student status for council tax and opening a bank account.

Students can easily search for answers to questions or submit enquiries through askUCL, our online student enquiries system managed by the SEC team.

Ahead of the start of the 2020/21 academic year the team will be launching a telephone service for students who require additional support.

The SEC team are aiming to provide a secure drop box on campus ahead of the start of the 2020/21 academic year for any students who need to have specific documents signed or handled in hard copy by staff. This service will allow students to drop off documents and pick them up later on once processed.

International Student Support (ISS) team

The ISS team provide advice and support to all our non-UK students (including any students from the EU/EEA/Switzerland) around settling in to UCL and UK life. Common themes include accessing health care, banking, travel and transport, and cultural integration.

The ISS team can help any international students, including our affiliate students who may only be on a short programme of study.

The International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP) will be delivered at the start of the 2020/21 academic year online via a series of information on the website, the New Students Orientation Module on Moodle (available from 7 September) and some online peer-to-peer Q&A sessions. This will be part of the offering for all new students.

Students can access the information on the ‘International students’ webpages or easily contact the team by raising an enquiry in askUCL or by emailing internationalsupport@ucl.ac.uk (if they have not yet pre-enrolled – the enquiry will be harvested into askUCL).

Students needing a bank letter to open a UK account can print this from Portico. Further information on how students can open an account will be made available on the ISS webpages in September.

Arrangements for police registration at OVRO (the Overseas Visitors Records Office) for any new students who need to complete this at the start of the 2020/21 academic year are still to be determined. More information will be shared on the ISS webpages in due course.

Immigration and visa advice is provided by a separate team within UCL Admissions. Arrangements for BRP (biometric residence permit) collection for any new students who need to complete this are still to be determined. More information will be shared on the ISS webpages in due course.

Study Abroad team

The Study Abroad team manage outbound student mobility for the majority of UCL’s undergraduate students (some departments such as SELCS have large-scale study abroad programmes which they manage themselves).

Together with colleagues in the Global Engagement Office (GEO), and working closely with faculties and departments, they maintain UCL’s network of global partner institutions.

Students due to have a period of study abroad in the 2020/21 academic year have a variety of options depending on their UCL programme and the placement options available to them. The Study Abroad team are in conversation with all of these students and their departments to provide bespoke support and help them decide on the best course of action for them. Options include completing the study abroad placement as planned in some cases, online study abroad in some cases, or deferral of study abroad to a later point.

It is currently too soon to confirm arrangements for students due to go on a period of study abroad in January 2021 or beyond. The Study Abroad team is monitoring the situation closely and is working hard to provide these students with the best possible study abroad experience. They are aiming to provide more comprehensive information directly to students due to start study abroad in January 2021 within the coming months, as the global situation becomes clearer.

UCL remains firmly committed to study abroad and providing opportunities for a global experience to as many of its students as possible. 

Students can easily contact the Study Abroad team through askUCL.

Student Residence Advisers (SRAs) and Hall Wardens

SSW manage the SRA programme: this is a network of current – mostly postgraduate – students (the SRAs) and some staff members (the Hall Wardens) living in our halls of residence, who act in a support and advisory role to help residents of UCL accommodation.

SRAs are on hand to support residents out of office hours with any wellbeing or mental health concerns they may have. They have had comprehensive training and can handle a wide range of issues.

Together with reception staff on site during office hours and security staff on site 24/7, the SRAs provide residents with holistic care at all times.

Faith support

UCL’s Chaplain and Interfaith Adviser is on hand to provide pastoral support to students of any and all faiths (or none) for any issues related to religion, faith or spirituality.

Students can speak to the Interfaith Adviser by email or they can send an email to arrange an appointment over the phone at a time during UK working hours that suits them.

Enrolment and start of term activities

Enrolment now takes place entirely online. Students complete the pre-enrolment task on Portico, then staff within Student and Registry Services complete the necessary checks to update the student’s status from ‘pre-enrolled’ to ‘enrolled’ – no further action from the student is required.

UCL Security Services and ISD (Information Services Division) will be leading the distribution of ID cards to new students on campus. ID cards will also be distributed to students in halls of residence at some sites.

Information for parents and guardians

Parents and guardians of UCL students are very important in encouraging their children to adopt healthy behaviours and look after their wellbeing while at UCL. SSW provide dedicated information and guidance to parents of our students on our website.


SSW services work together collaboratively to fulfil UCL’s duty of care to students under the age of 18 and those who are vulnerable adults. Students under the age of 18 are allocated to specific halls of residence, where SRAs and Hall Wardens will regularly check on their welfare. Regular meetings between SSW’s various teams are held to discuss individual student cases and ensure a joined up approach. SSW is fully committed to enacting our duty of care and ensuring the welfare of vulnerable students.