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Welcome

Begin your journey at Staffordshire University

How are you studying?

Congratulations and welcome to Staffordshire University!

 

Hi! My name’s Darren Clarke and I am your Students’ Union President for 2017/18!

Four years ago I was possibly in your shoes, I was leaving home in Ireland, arriving at staffs for the next few years of my life in Higher Education. I can still remember the empty feeling as I watched my family drive off, leaving me stranded at Staffs! But don’t worry, that was the hardest part. After that I got involved in so many areas of my course, sport, activities I made a new family at staffs and learnt so much.

And that’s where we come in at The Students’ Union, our job is to help and support you in all areas of life at staffs. Our main job is to look after your Academic Interests around your course, but on top of that we empower students in creating, running and maintaining clubs, societies and activities so you can have some fun and have amazing experiences along the way too!

Please explore our welcome site and I will hopefully see you soon!

 

The University was founded in 1914, but not as we know it today. It began as a pottery and mining school, in the building that is now the Thompson Library.

The school expanded and increased its retinue of courses. New structures were built across Shelton, before the school became the North Staffordshire Polytechnic in 1971. As the coal industry declined in the 1980s, the Polytechnic scrapped the mining qualifications.

In 1992 North Staffordshire Polytechnic became Staffordshire University.

Today, 25 years later, the university has three campuses; the largest, in Stoke-on-Trent is home to a vast array of courses all the way from 3D Design to Tourism and Events. The Beaconside campus in Stafford was closed in 2016, but Blackheath Lane, also in Stafford, remains open for nursing students. There's also the Shrewsbury campus, which also hosts some of the university’s nursing and midwifery courses.

We have an annual varsity event with neighbouring university Keele, which has been held since 2001 and continues to draw huge crowds for sports such as football, rugby and basketball.

For more information about the university and its past, click here.

Our Blackheath Lane campus, along with its sister campus in Shrewsbury, was first established as part of the Shropshire and Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery, beginning a long history of nursing pedigree.

In 1995 these schools were integrated and developed into a growing Staffordshire University.

For over 20 years Blackheath Lane ran alongside the university’s large Beaconside campus, home to many technology and computing courses, before a decision was made to close Beaconside in the summer of 2016. Now, as the university’s sole prescence in Stafford, Blackheath Lane has seen some exciting developments.

Students in Stafford now have a new suite of state-of-the-art skill labs to help them experience real-life situations, an ambulance transfer area, comfortable social spaces and a refurbished Dudley’s café, all thanks to a £5million investment by the university into its Blackheath Lane and Shrewsbury Centres of Excellence.

Alongside the Shrewsbury centre, nursing students on Blackheath Lane can prepare for the best learning experience.

For more information about the university and its past, click here.

Our Shrewsbury campus, along with its sister campus on Blackheath Lane in Stafford, was first established as part of the Shropshire and Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery, beginning a long history of nursing pedigree.

In 1995 these schools were integrated and developed into a growing Staffordshire University.

After over 20 years in the historic county town of Shrewsbury, our nursing students still have plenty to get excited about.

As part of a £5million investment into both our Centres of Excellence for Health, the Shrewsbury campus has upgraded their state-of-the-art clinical labs, developed new social learning spaces, improved their general teaching rooms and completely refurbished the courtyard.

Alongside the Blackheath Lane centre, nursing students in Shrewsbury can expect the best learning experience.

For more information about the university and its past, click here.

International Students

A lot of our students have travelled immense distances to study here at Staffordshire University and, after such a long journey, they’ll receive all the support available to them.

As an international student who’s living in Stoke-on-Trent, Blackheath Lane or Shrewsbury, all the information in our ‘Living On-Campus’ section will apply to you, so have a read through and get ready to join us!

The university also offers plenty of helpful advice for international students on their website, courtesy of the International Student Support group, including tips on visas, immigration and life in the UK. Follow this link to the International Student Support page: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/international/support/

Living Locally in Stoke-on-Trent

Living on campus in a new area can be daunting, but you'll become familiar with the local area sooner than you think. Why not get a head start and check out what Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has to offer? Click an option below to view more info.

Supermarkets

Shopping

Food

Transport

Cinemas

Pubs

Nights Out

Days Out

There are loads of supermarkets around the campus area. The largest has to be Tesco in Hanley, which is only a 20 minute walk from campus, but there's also a huge Tesco in Longton. Just a little bit closer to the campus is the Asda or Lidl just around the corner in Fenton, or the Sainsbury's in Stoke. For a lighter shop, you can always check out the Union shops on either side of the campus.

Your shopping needs will mainly be fulfilled in the centre of Hanley, home to the intu Potteries shopping centre. This holds all the usual suspects; HMV, Topshop, Primark, Next, GAME, Pandora and many more. They usually hold a student discount night sometime during the first semester so it's always a good idea to keep your eye out. In the nearby area, there's also Freeport Talke, an outlet mall where you can grab some amazingly cheap deals.

2016 saw the opening of Stoke-on-Trent's first ever Nandos, and this year will see the opening of its second. Joining the list of new food stores this year is TGI Fridays. In the Hive, near the Potteries in Hanley, you'll find a Chiquito, a Frankie and Benny's, a Gourmet Burger Kitchen and a Pizza Express. There are tons of restaurants across Hanley, including a Wetherspoon's, so you'll never be short on choice. There are also some great options in Stoke town such as MISO Japanese Restaurant, and also in neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme. Have an explore and find your favourites.

One of the best things about the location of our Stoke campus is how easy it is to get to the train station, which is a five minute walk. From there you can travel as far north as Manchester, and as far south as Exeter, as well as all the stops in between. If you're going to be travelling by train a lot, consider buying a 16-25 railcard which removes a third of the price of your ticket. On top of trains, there are plenty of buses running around the campus area, as well as a bunch of taxi companies (Uber, Lucky 7 or City Cabs to name a few) that are always willing to take you from one destination to the other.

If you've got a penchant for the big screen, you can find the year-old Cineworld complex in Hanley, and an ODEON cinema just down the road in Festival Park. There's also a Vue cinema in Newcastle-under-Lyme. There's also a new IMAX cinema being built in Hanley. If you're into more independent movies, the film theatre in the Flaxman Building on campus shows a selection of mainstream and indie movies.

You might fancy a change from our resident union bar The Ember Lounge, and there's a plethora of pubs nearby to spend an evening or two in. There's The Terrace, situated between the two sides of the Stoke campus, and The Glebe, across the A500 in Stoke town, which hosts a variety of ales, great food and live music twice a week.

Whilst there's a club on campus, Hanley boasts a number of choices for a night out. The big club in town is Fiction, but there's other options such as Walkabout and Individual. There's also live music venue The Sugarmill, which is a great place to catch a band. Further afield, you could also venture into Newcastle-under-Lyme for a night out if it takes your fancy.

Outside of the city, you'll find a plethora of things to do. Nearby in Trentham, there's the gardens and the Monkey Forest for you to sink your teeth into, as well as Cannock Chase just south of Stafford. If you're a bit more of an adrenaline junkie, why not try Alton Towers and Drayton Manor, which are both situated in Staffordshire?

Where you’ll be

 

Living Locally in Shrewsbury

Travel

The campus in Shrewsbury is a bit of a distance away from the town centre and the railway station, so you’ll end up learning how to get around in no time. If you’ve got a car, getting from campus to town and vice-versa is simple: just a ten minute drive up the B4386.

If you have to get the bus, then it’s not much different. The No. 1 Arriva service travels between the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the town centre every 15 minutes on a similar route (and such a short journey time means a taxi fare isn’t going to be too steep either).

If you decide to walk, the trip should take you around 45 minutes each way.

Shrewsbury railway station is fairly well connected, with direct trains to Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street and Crewe, where you can change for London Euston.

Things to do

The town centre of Shrewsbury itself has plenty for anyone, regardless of their interests. If history’s your thing, then the castle and museums will definitely be worth a visit, along with the outstanding pubs and restaurants, many of them hundreds of years old.

For the big screen, the nearest cinema is the Cineworld on the other side of town, a 15 minute drive away.

Nights out come easy enough; there’s the huge Buttermarket nightclub, as well as the C21 and Spirit bar/clubs near to Shrewsbury Abbey.

Shopping

A supermarket’s going to be vital, whatever your interests are, and the nearest is a Co-op ten minutes down the B4386 towards town. There are plenty more within driving distance, from ASDA to M&S and Waitrose.

Shrewsbury’s got two main shopping centres; Pride Hill and the Darwin, both with a range of your typical high street chains, but you’ll find loads of great independent shops down the famous Wyle Cop, such as Left for Dead records and the Herbarium herbalist.

We’ve put together a useful map of everything mentioned here, so you have a good starting point to finding your way around.

We’ve put together a useful map of everything mentioned here, so you have a good starting point to finding your way around.

 

Living Locally on Blackheath Lane

Travel

Stafford railway station remains the best way of getting into the town from around the country, with direct connections between Crewe, London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, which should be enough to get you anywhere easily (including Stoke-on-Trent). Unfortunately, while the town centre is on the station’s doorstep, the Blackheath Lane campus is a bit further away, so knowing your transport between the two will become very useful.

To get a bus from Blackheath Lane to the station/town centre you have two good options. A ten minute walk will get you to the stop opposite the crematorium where D&G buses run a service into the town, or a fifteen minute walk to the bus stop opposite the old university campus on Weston Road if you prefer Arriva. Both are fairly regular and probably the most cost-effective way to get around.

Of course if you’re out a bit late and can’t catch a bus, you may have to opt for a taxi. There are plenty of taxi companies in and around Stafford, Kaminski to name one, that’ll get you home or into town for a reasonable price, especially when split between several people.

If you’re lucky enough to own a car, however, the trip’s easy, ten minutes along Weston Road and you’re in town. Don’t forget to offer your less lucky friends lifts to save them a bit of time and hassle.

Things to do

Stafford’s got a lot to offer entertainment-wise, providing you know where to look.

There’s an independent cinema down the road from the station simply called ‘The Stafford Cinema’, which shows mainstream blockbusters as well as live opera and Shakespeare performances.

If you’re after more dramatics, the town centre also plays host to the famous Gatehouse Theatre, where you can catch the best plays, musicals and pantomimes.

When you’ve decided to commit to a fully-fledged night out, there’s a few nightclubs and bars to visit; old favourite Couture still sits near the train station, but you can also try Casa or the Post House for a classy experience. The town also has its fair share of pubs, from The Picture House in the town centre to the Knot & Plough, a short walk from Blackheath Lane.

Shopping

Supermarkets aren’t in short supply either: the biggest is the Tesco Extra on Newport Road, very close to the train station, but there’s also an ASDA, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Iceland within a mile of it, so it’s down to personal preference.

For some proper retail therapy head to the Guildhall Shopping Centre, where you’ll find the usual branches of River Island, The Body Shop, Poundland and JD, amongst others. Be sure to check out the high street too for plenty more opportunities to spend.

We’ve put together a useful map of everything mentioned here, so you have a good starting point to finding your way around.

 

What to do on campus

Food and Drink

Coffee

If you're in a rush and in need of a quick coffee fix, a bite to eat or even a fresh smoothie there’s Squeeze Box on College Road, where you can pick up all sorts of drinks, as well as freshly prepared toasties, wraps and oatcakes with a variety of fillings. You’ll also find coffee shops in the Thompson Library (Café Cadman), the Ashley Building (Ashley Café), and the Science Building's (The Coffee Lab)

Big Bites

If your hunger is a little more insatiable, you can cure your hunger on both our Stoke-on-Trent and Blackheath Lane campuses. Make your way down to Leek Road for the Brindley Food Court, a cafeteria style restaurant serving a full deli, traditional food and a ‘global counter’ selling themed world food daily. Brindley’s counterpart on the Blackheath Lane site is Dudley’s, a place to pick up sandwiches, snacks and wraps. Be sure to check out their ‘Essentials’ range, to keep you going during those long working days. There's also the recently opened Pavilion Café on the Stoke campus, which offers affordable food, from snacks to a full array of fresh home cooked dishes.

Union Venues

The union runs two main bar/restaurants in Stoke-on-Trent, one on the College Road site, called The Ember Lounge and one on the Leek Road site, called Verve. Both of which offer a range of meals from pizzas cooked in an authentic Italian oven to burgers made using the best locally-sourced meat, travelling just 1.5 miles to your plate.

Ember Lounge shows many major sports events on its two huge projection screens; Premier League matches, Grand Slam tennis, Formula 1, the Superbowl and much more, as well as regular karaoke and quiz nights for students to enjoy.

Verve’s American diner aesthetic is reflected in their menu, with creamy milkshakes and varied choice in burgers on offer. Their signature dish: Denver fries, are a must-try and come in several different forms, such as the classic steak and cheese, the Mexican (with jalapenos, mixed pepper and onions) and the British (with bacon, sausage and mushroom).

As part of the union’s environmental drive, veggie meals also get you a handy bonus: buying five meals gets you a sixth free. To learn more and to get your meat-free card click here: https://www.staffsunion.com/news/article/GreenPad/Fill-up-your-card-amp-get-30-voucher/


Gym & Sports facilities

The university has its own gym facilities for students, staff and even the local community to use, although students and staff get a considerable discount. Set in the Sir Stanley Matthews Sports Centre, the gym is home to plenty of modern equipment including cross trainers, treadmills, weights and more.

Both in and nearby the sports centre, you also have the opportunity to book astroturf football pitches, a sports hall, an activities room for yoga and aerobics and full size grass pitches for rugby and football.


On a Night Out

If the evening progresses beyond a few drinks at the Ember Lounge, or you just fancy an easy night out, look no further than the union’s very own nightclub, the LRV (Leek Road Venue).

The LRV is sat directly next to Verve, a very short and convenient walk from the halls accommodation, and plays host to the two main student nights during the week: Gobble on Wednesdays and Mukky on Fridays. With hundreds of attendees every week, the odd special guest or two and their signature ‘Yoda’ cocktail, be sure to grab your tickets for the first week and beyond.


For Everything Else

For those of you on Stoke campus, you’ve got easy access to the union shops situated on College Road (next to the Ember Lounge) and Leek Road (next to the LRV). On sale you’ll find groceries, snacks, toiletries, stationary and even university branded clothing to take home and show off.

The Leek Road shop is open every weekday from 8:30am – 7:00pm and Saturdays from 12:00pm – 4:30pm, whilst the College Road shop is only open on weekdays from 8:30am – 6:00pm.

Many of the union venues are run by student staff, so to get involved keep an eye out for openings on the union jobs page.

What to bring with you.

For a lot of you moving into a new place on your own will be a brand new experience, so to help you choose what to bring along we’ve put together a handy list of essentials (some of which aren’t totally essential).

ID like a passport or driving licence

 

You’re going to need to prove who you are quite a lot in those early months, so this is pretty much necessary.

Money

 

Even students need food and entertainment and, annoyingly, this costs actual money.

Clothes

 

Another necessity here. It’s cold for a lot of the term-time here in the Midlands so remember to pack coats, jackets and jumpers for the winter ahead. Don’t forget an iron as well to keep everything crease-free.

Medicine

 

Aside from any personal medication, you’ll find cold relief and paracetamol very useful when Fresher’s Flu hits a couple of weeks after moving in.

Electronics

 

Your phones, desktops, laptops, tablets, TVs, games consoles, the list goes on. Anything to make living life in the 21st century a little bit easier.

Chargers and Cables

 

Because your electronics don’t run on magic.

Toiletries

 

Deodorant, shower gel, shampoo etc. A clean student is a happy student.

Cleaning Products

 

Bleach, washing up liquid, surface cleaner, dusters. You should get a vacuum cleaner with your accommodation so don’t worry too much about that.

Bedding

 

No one likes sleeping on a bare mattress.

Kitchen stuff

 

The important stuff would be cutlery, plates, pots and pans and a variety of other utensils based on how regularly/proficiently you plan to cook over the next year. Tupperware is also a must for keeping those precious leftovers fresh(ish).

Books

 

These can be your own personal books or ones you’ve specially bought for your course. Course books can be expensive so remember not to leave them at home!

Decoration

 

As excellent as the accommodation is, it’s not going to reflect who you are until you do something about it. Bring some posters, pictures, lamps, anything to make it feel more like home. There’ll always be opportunities to add to your walls, with a poster sale popping up on campus at various times throughout the year.

Pens/paper/assorted stationary

 

Technology can be great, but sometimes nothing beats a paper and pen to jot ideas down.

Of course, the most important thing is NOT TO WORRY. Don’t overdo it, there are plenty of shops nearby where you can pick up anything you need and you don’t want to travel with too much gear, especially if you’re coming over a long distance.

Transport to Stoke campus

Train

Train times, prices, reliability. Platform 1 goes south, Platform 2 goes north. Direct trains between London Euston and Crewe.

Stoke-on-Trent railway station is one of the most integral stations in the West Midlands, with over 2.5 million people passing through every year. So you won’t be surprised to know that many stations across the country have a direct route to the Potteries; in London, Manchester, Crewe, Derby, Birmingham and many more.

Local train services can also get you to nearby Stafford, Stone, Kidsgrove and even a five minute trip to Longton.

Check out National Rail to see if the railway is the best option for you: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Car

If you’re driving to Stoke campus from outside the city, the two main roads you’ll have to contend with are the M6, which brings you close to the city from the south, and the A500 which runs on the other side of the railway line from the university.

A short drive away you can also find the A34, which can get you between Stafford and Congleton, as well as the A50, which goes east towards Derby and Nottingham.

Students wishing to use the car parking facilities at the university campus will have to apply for a permit, priced at £55 per year. With this permit they can park up in the limited spaces available on College Road by Mellor and the Beacon building, or at the larger car parks found on the Leek Road campus.

To apply for a permit, click here: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/about/campuses/parking/

Walking

Of course, the healthiest and most economical way of getting to Staffordshire University is by walking it, if possible. Do bear in mind though the time it takes to travel onto campus, as well as any weather conditions you might end up facing. If the prospect of a walk seems a bit to arduous, a bike is always a quicker alternative to consider. Either way, plan your route and come up with a contingency plan if there’s no way you can walk or cycle in.

Bus

First Potteries are the main bus company in the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent and have stops and routes spreading all over the city.

The best of these for the Stoke campus sit outside the train station and outside the Cadman building, from which you can get to Hanley Bus Station and most places in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

First Potteries also offer student discounts for single fares as well as money-saving passes; the 10trip for £15 which will get you ten single journeys; an unlimited month pass for £45 or an unlimited annual pass for £299. Worth looking into if you’re a frequent rider.

Taxi

There are plenty of taxi companies to get you around North Staffordshire, it’s just a matter of finding which one suits your location and needs best. Two popular choices for Shelton (the location of our Stoke campus) are A1 Embassy and City Cabs, but do some research and see if there are any better options for you.

If you need to grab a ride from College Road quickly then you’ll find a taxi rank to the side of the Cadman Building, nearest the train station.

What to do before you start your studies

  • Enrol online: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/welcome/enrolment/

  • Research and buy books for your course and any equipment you might need. You'll be able to find this out via eVision.

  • Decide if you want a student bank account: You’ll get a fair amount of choice where student bank accounts are concerned; whether you’ll want a debit card or an overdraft, the size of the overdraft, even free perks such as a free NUS Extra card or Student Railcard. Have a look around and see which one suits you best.

  • Buy an NUS Extra card: An NUS Extra card will get you all sorts of discounts during your time as a student; even if you aren’t a shopaholic it’ll pay for itself in no time. Look out for deals on restaurants, clothes, cinema tickets, travel, essential uni gear and tonnes more. http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/

  • Link up with the university, the union and other students on social media: There are plenty of ways to keep up with your university and union; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Youtube. Connect with us and see what’s in store. Social media is also a great way to meet your future student peers and tutors.

  • Learn what’s on campus and in the surrounding area: You might already know what’s about in Stoke, Stafford or Shrewsbury, but since you’re going to be spending a lot more time around the campus it can’t hurt to have a look at what’s on offer.

  • Plan travel arrangements: Whether you’re driving, getting the bus, taking the bus, a cab or train, plan it all out and find the best option for you.

What to do before you start your studies

  • Enrol online: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/welcome/enrolment/

  • Research and buy books for your course and any equipment you might need.

  • Decide if you want a student bank account: You’ll get a fair amount of choice where student bank accounts are concerned; whether you’ll want a debit card or an overdraft, the size of the overdraft, even free perks such as a free NUS Extra card or Student Railcard. Have a look around and see which one suits you best.

  • Buy an NUS Extra card for £12 and it will also act as an ISIC (International Student Identity Card), opening up the opportunity for discounts all over the world, from hostels and hotels to railways and restaurants. http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/

  • Link up with the university, the union and other students on social media: There are plenty of ways to keep up with your university and union; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Youtube. Connect with us and see what’s in store. Social media is also a great way to meet your future student peers and tutors.

  • Learn about Blackboard: Blackboard is going to be your main tool when studying for your qualification, so it’s vital you understand how it all works. They’ve got their own tutorial to help you get to grips, so take a look: https://blackboard.staffs.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/institution/S2%20Student%20Introduction%20to%20Blackboard.pdf

  • Start to plan a work schedule: Without scheduled lectures, it can be easy to lose track of your workload, so make sure to make a daily/weekly plan scheduling exactly when and how you’re going to tackle your work. It’ll make everything much easier.

  • Make sure you can access lessons properly: To get access to Blackboard, all your social media and emails, you’re going to need a computer and a decent internet connection. This might not be the most difficult requirement, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

What to do before you arrive

  • Enrol online: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/welcome/enrolment/

  • Apply for accommodation: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/support_depts/accommodation/apply/

  • Research and buy books for your course and any equipment you might need.

  • Decide if you want a student bank account: You’ll get a fair amount of choice where student bank accounts are concerned; whether you’ll want a debit card or an overdraft, the size of the overdraft, even free perks such as a free NUS Extra card or Student Railcard. Have a look around and see which one suits you best.

  • Buy an NUS Extra card: An NUS Extra card will get you all sorts of discounts during your time as a student; even if you aren’t a shopaholic it’ll pay for itself in no time. Look out for deals on restaurants, clothes, cinema tickets, travel, essential uni gear and tonnes more. http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/

  • Start learning to cook: Take it step-by-step, but, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to learn how to cook some basic meals. Frequent takeaways won’t be kind to your bank account or body, so buy a few things from the supermarket and check out some online recipes. Pasta is always a great place to start.

  • Buy a TV licence online: If you’re living in university accommodation, you’re going to need a TV licence, unless, of course, you don’t plan on watching any TV (that includes online). http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

  • Link up with the university, the union and other students on social media: There are plenty of ways to keep up with your university and union; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Youtube. Connect with us and see what’s in store. Social media is also a great way to meet your future student peers and tutors.

  • Make plans for moving in: For some of you it’ll be a short trip, for others it’ll be much longer, either way you’re going to need to plan it. How are you getting here? When? And of course you’ll need to decide what to bring, so take a look at our handy checklist of essentials (link to What to Bring content)

  • Learn what’s on campus and in the surrounding area: Whether it’s Stoke, Shrewsbury or Stafford you’re going to have to get to know the local area, so we’ve made another handy guide for you, complete with an interactive map.

Distance Learner Help

Congratulations on taking the leap and becoming one of our many distance learning students from around the world. Even though you might not be in Staffordshire, or even England, the students’ union are always available to help you during your course. So to start, here’s a few useful tips to know about distance learning at Staffs…

Blackboard

For many of our distance courses the main tool you’ll be using to access lessons and submit work will be Blackboard, our Virtual Learning Environment. It’s simple and efficient to use, but to get a head start they’ve put together their own guide for you to read, click here to check it out.

E-Books

As the university library moves into the future, more and more is now available online in the form of e-books (electronic books). Once you receive your university username and password you’ll have thousands of e-books at your fingertips, from a range of suppliers depending on your course and faculty of study. E-books can be accessed anywhere, anytime, provided you have an internet access. Click here to find out more.

Students on social media

To keep in touch with your tutors and coursemates, it’s strongly recommended you use social media, most commonly this will be in the form of Facebook groups and chats. Here you can easily discuss examinations, results and any concerns you might have, as well as socialise with other distance learners in a similar situation to yourself. Some other online applications students use to interact include Ning and Discord. If you require help setting up your own distance learning online community, be sure to get in touch with us here at the union and we’d be happy to help!

Check out some of our current distance learners’ top tips below!

A Distance Learner’s top tips

Richard Hill. Walsall. BSc Games Design.

  • Get in touch with your lecturers if you need to know something or have any questions, it’s hard for your lecturers to get in touch with you all the time. Sometimes you need to step up and say hello and ask questions yourself.

  • Join all the University’s Facebook groups. There are many for modules, distance students and onsite students, join them all, many of the lecturers are on Facebook so add them to your Facebook as well.

  • Don’t be afraid to make friends with distance students and with students that attend the Uni. Use the University’s Facebook groups to meet new people by helping others with things and asking questions in the groups.

  • Join my discord group, we have a section just for distance students to be able to meet and talk to each other.

  • Set yourself a day and time for each module to focus on; having a set time and day will really help you concentrate on the module’s tasks.

  • I was told that 10 hours per week should be spent on each module and this is not far wrong, but if you work hard you can fit in more in less time. It will depend on your available time and speed.

  • Bookmark all your main website apps like Blackboard, DIS, Digital Forum and add them to your browser as web apps.

  • I said this before but I will say it again, Make friends with other students. It’s important that you start building relationships and have some people to talk to about the modules and course.

  • Ask for feedback on your work! Lecturers don’t know if you need help unless you ask for it. If you don’t ask for help your teachers will think you are doing fine and don’t need any assistance.

  • Share the effort you put into modules evenly. You may want to focus on one particular area, but to get the best degree possible you need to get a good overall grade, so even your workload out.

Kurt Borg. Malta. PhD Philosophy.

  • It's crucial that one is aware of one's rights and duties as a distance learning student. One must know what access there is to which resources (library, administrative, academic, financial, advisory, and counselling). Read the University's policies and regulations on what distance learning entails, and what your programme involves. Make sure you are familiar with what is expected of you as a distance learning student, and what is expected of your supervisors.

  • It is important for a distance learning student to invest in and improve their communication skills. This is because, normally, you will be communicating with supervisors via email/Skype, so you should learn how to express yourself (doubts, reservations, questions) as clearly as possible. You shouldn't be afraid or worried to ask for help and support. Although supervisors will be there to guide you or gently chase you, you must not hesitate to ask for clarifications or help.

  • It is very important for a distance learning student, particularly as a PhD student, to get involved in the University's postgraduate community (over online forums) or in your local postgraduate community. Informal sharing of ideas with other postgraduates, as well as more formal sharing such as presenting papers and participating in conferences is an inevitable part of one's academic development.

  • Distance learning does not mean that you learn in a vacuum or in an isolated way. Make sure you find ways to feel part of the University community by developing contacts with fellow students and academics. Discover what kind of research is happening within the Faculty you are a student in, and do not hesitate to get in touch with other students and scholars working in a similar research area to yours.

  • If possible (and this is greatly encouraged), try to travel to the University a couple of times during your studies. This gives you a feel of what university life is, as well as an opportunity to meet your supervisors and the colleagues you have been in touch with.

  • Make sure you devote consistent attention to your studies. In the case of PhD students, just because you are not bound by specific learning hours doesn't mean that you can slack or "binge study". It is important to develop techniques whereby you spread out your work and have a healthy work routine.

Babbin Pokharel. Nepal. MA International Policy and Diplomacy.

  • Be passionate about your module and motivate yourself.

  • Try to get more information about the module from the web beforehand.

  • Communicate with your course tutor as much as possible as well as occasional communication with your course award tutor.

  • If you don’t understand anything, ask them.

  • After you finish your weekly assignment, post in the discussion board.

  • Communicate well with your course mates.

  • Be yourself and be original while doing your essay and Virtual Seminar Presentation.

  • It’s okay to make mistakes, learn from them.

  • Lastly take feedback from your tutor and course mates; no one is perfect and we are all here to learn.

For me the golden rule is communication.

Our top commuter tips

  • Make the effort.

    You have to make an effort no matter what you're doing in your life. The only way to find the best things at university is going out and finding them, and going out and talking to people. Chances are, the people you end up meeting are going to be some of the closest friends you ever make.

  • Step out of your comfort zone.

    Do things that you wouldn't normally do! Especially if you're commuting from the local area and catching a quick bus or walking. Find something that will both challenge and interesting you on campus.

  • Don't be restricted.

    Don't let the fact you're travelling in restrict you. Keep up to date with things that are happening on the Union website and if you've got hours to spare, attend something. Former Union President Jaime-Lee said: "There's so many situations where I thought as a commuter, I can't get involved, or this isn't for me. But it is. It's for everybody and anybody."

  • Plan ahead.

    If you're getting the train or bus, or even driving, plan ahead. It's better to be way too early than way too late. You can always prepare for lectures and seminars if you're early.

A Living On-Campus student’s top tips

Darren Clarke – Student Officer

Living in halls is an experience. Don’t try to make it anything, just take it as it is: a mad year when you’re meeting random people.

Keep saying hello to people as well, wherever you can.

I found halls wasn’t enjoyable if you’re sitting on your own in your room, I had to be out and around people; in the kitchen, in other flats, just hanging out. That made the experience for me.

As a warden I got to stay in halls for the second year as well, which means free rent. But it’s also a great opportunity to help people out. So definitely consider taking that up after your first year.

Top Tips for an International Student

We asked one of our resident international students here at the union what advice they could give to new students arriving in September.

Swetha Reddy, one of our four elected student officers, who grew up in India said:

“This is the one place you get to experiment, learn and achieve, nobody can stop you. If you want to relax that’s not going to work.

“If I compare the lifestyle here to back home in India, I’m always on my toes, whereas in India I’m very laid back; everything gets served to you, your parents get everything. Here it’s an individualistic life, so you better be on your toes and start working.

“Join clubs and societies, that’s the best way to interact with home students. Don’t stick to communities or groups and push your boundaries.

“You only get to learn things if you try.

“Always have your faculty and supporting team in your good books, they’ll help you throughout. You’re the one who has to take the initiative.”

Getting involved with the union

Volunteering

It’s not the easiest thing in the world finding a job, let alone one in your career path or in a field you love. This is where volunteering becomes invaluable: if you’re after a position that will develop your CV or finally get you doing something you really enjoy.

There’s a massive variety of volunteer roles supported by the students’ union, so take a look, read some volunteer stories and find something to dedicate yourself to. Visit the site here.

Past student positions have included; comic artist, events organiser, marketing officer, website manager, magazine content producers, soccer school coach and many, many more.

 
 

Clubs and Societies

You’ll find so many clubs and societies to get stuck in with when you come to Staffs, but why not do some early research? Check out the list of what’s available on the union website here and feel free to get in touch with their committee members if you’ve got any queries.

Of course, if your interest/sport is exclusive enough not to have made it onto the list of existing clubs and societies, you can always start your own! The union will even help out with funding during the early days. Apply to start your own here.

Some of our current students had great things to say about their time with their club or society, check out their stories in the video below.

 
 

Jobs

There are so many opportunities to work with us at the union, in fact it’s the easiest place to find a job, as well as being convenient and safe. Whatever your niche, there’ll be somewhere for you, whether that’s as bar staff in the LRV, Ember Lounge or Verve, in the kitchens, working in the union shops, as an open day rep or working in the union offices.

Keep an eye on the jobs page where we post all of our available positions and send us an application, whether you’re after a better CV or just some extra income.

Getting involved

If you want to make a really big impact during your time at Staffs, you could do worse than running in the annual Leadership Race to become an elected student officer.

Union President for 2014/2015 Mel Ramsay, now working at TheLADBible, told us: “Even if you aren't successful in securing a position, you learn so much whilst running. You can show future employers that you have marketed yourself, ran a campaign and put yourself out there.

“I feel that this really helped me get my current role in the media."

Student Officer for 2015/16, Ash Holland, also explained why a student officer position is like no other: “Before you enter, you might think you've got the whole package, but believe me, six months down the line you're a much better person.

“I thought; I've done organising, I've done event planning, I've done time management, I'm sorted, but what you get from being an officer really helps you to be so broad-minded. I couldn't imagine going to any job and getting the same experience.”

If finance is your bag, there’s also student trustee elections running at the same time as the student officer elections, so jump in, get something really worthwhile for your CV and help your fellow students.

There’s so much more to do with us at the union, from starting your own social enterprise business to joining our Liberation Networks (LGBT+, Women’s, Multi-cultural and Disabled), you’re spoiled for choice.

Support

Deciding to study at university is a huge decision, regardless of whether you’ll live on-campus, commute from home or take a course online. It can also be a very complex time and feel quite overwhelming for a prospective student, so it’s important to know where to look for help when you need it.

Worried about finance? Unsure about accommodation? Don’t understand visas and immigration?

Any concern that you might have, get in touch with the Students’ Union Advice Centre, the Staffordshire University Student Guidance Team or International Student Support. Check them out below:

Staffs Union’s Student Advice Centre

Tel: 01782 294629

Email: sac@staffs.ac.uk

Student Advice Centre (Above the Ember Lounge),

College Road,

Stoke-on-Trent,

ST4 2DE

Staffordshire University Student Guidance Team

Rachel Thompson, Student Guidance Officer

Tel: 01782 294684

Email: support@staffs.ac.uk

International Student Support

Tel: 01782 294539

Email: isa@staffs.ac.uk

International Student Support,

Cadman Building,

College Road,

Stoke-on-Trent,

ST4 2DE