Welcome new students

Keeping our families informed

Advice for family members of students

You've helped a new Essex student - your son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, carer or guardian - make a great decision by coming to study at Essex.

We hope the information on this page gives you a good overview about what a new student needs to do within the first few weeks of joining us, and the part you can play as someone who cares about them.

We are family

Your role and our relationship

Your valuable support

We value your vital supporting role as a family member of a new Essex student, and welcome you too as a member of our university's community. Starting university is an exciting time for any new student, but it can also be a time of uncertainty; homesickness, making friends and adjusting to a degree-level course can all raise concerns for new students. If you're the family or friend of a new student, it can be a challenging experience for you too.

A big step

University is very different from school; your new Essex student's an adult now, responsible for their own finances, academic attendance and performance, diet, social life, sleeping habits and everything else that involves being a student. For parents, because our relationship, as a university, is with the student, you'll find that support advisors, personal tutors, lecturers, and accommodation staff won't be in a position to speak to you about how your son or daughter is doing, due to our duties and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act.

Helping to build resilience

However, that doesn't mean we can't listen to you, and suggest ways you could lend your support to help your new Essex student build resilience. A good place for you to start is by getting familiar with the really broad range of support services we offer to students, alongside those offered independently by our Students' Union. Once you do so, you'll know where to guide your new Essex student, if they need any extra help or advice.

Study help

During vacations, it is easy for students to get distracted and forget about their studies. But students will often have coursework or exams due soon after the start of term. While it is the responsibility of the student to deal with their own studies, you can consider how the home is encouraging them to do some coursework and revision. Students often say that a helpful study technique is chatting about what they’ve learnt with a family member. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t learnt the subject, because by chatting it through, they realise what they have learnt and what they need to revise. Chatting about what you’re learning can build subject knowledge, and increase motivation to study. You might even be interested to read some of their work.

Preparing for a new life

Exploring the campus and beyond

We also encourage new students to explore the Colchester, Southend or Loughton area surrounding their campus, and take a campus and library tour. They may also want to take part in the free sports sessions on offer, or join the gym at Colchester.

New students can familiarise themselves with the campuses at Colchester and Southend by using the Find-Your-Way map and smartphone app, it's pretty useful to know in advance of lectures and seminars where to go:

Support in our student accommodation

Residence Life

Residence Life is team of full time staff and part time student staff known as Residents’ Assistants (RAs). The aim of Residence Life is to help make sure all our students have a positive experience whilst living and learning at Essex.

What can an RA help students with?

  • Advice and support
  • Signposting
  • Flat meetings
  • Mediating flat issues
  • Connecting with our community
  • Meeting new people

How do the RAs build community?

From day one the RAs will welcome students to our community and will answer any of their questions. Every student living in campus accommodation is allocated to a specific RA. All RAs are returning students who have received intensive training to make sure they’re a great person to go to for advice or support.

Other support on campus

Our professional advice teams within your Student Services Hub and the Students' Union are here at every turn. Every student also has access to a personal tutor and our peer mentoring scheme is a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge and experience of a fellow student.

Academic support

Dealing with a disappointing grade

From time to time your family member may do less well in a piece of coursework or exam than they had hoped or expected. Although they may be disappointed it is important to remind them that this is just one mark which can be easily recovered. Also, school and college grades are often higher than at university, so what might appear to be a low mark may actually be a good mark. You can find more information on our marking schemes in your family member's departmental handbook.

There are many ways for students to find out what is deemed to be a good mark and how they can improve. They can:

  • look at feedback to see what they did well and what they could do better next time
  • map the comments against the marking criteria

If they don’t know what they did well or how to improve, they can contact their lecturer, their personal tutor or Skills for Success for advice.

Sources of support

Departmental support

Your family member can get a lot of support from their department:

  • students can discuss specific course issues with their lecturers
  • students are also assigned a Personal Tutor who is one of the lecturers in their department and with whom they discuss any academic or personal issues they may have
  • all students are also assigned a Peer Mentor – a second or third year student who is on hand to give practical information and advice to help first years settle into university life
  • all departments also have a wide range of administrative staff who are available to talk with students

If you’d like to find out more about your family member’s course, department and support services, take a look at their departmental handbook.

University support

Outside of the department, Essex builds the academic skills of students through Skills for Success. Covering everything from maths, reading and writing, to research skills, we offer a range of support to help your family member fulfil their potential. We also provide a wide range of courses to help students develop their IT skills.

Doubts about a course

Many students feel uncertain about continuing on their course. This can be for a range of reasons. Most students with doubts do continue. If your family member has doubts during their course you might find it helpful to read the information available to them and encourage them to do the same, including contacting a staff member so that they can discuss their options. The guidance includes who they can contact depending on their circumstances so that they can make an informed decision.

Security, safety and other issues

Our community’s health and wellbeing are at the heart of everything we do. 

Our student webpages contain helpful information that we encourage all students to read before starting at Essex. This includes guidance and advice on personal safety, health and wellbeing, money matters and much more.

We ask students for permission to liaise with a named friend or family member if we have a serious concern about their health and safety. Students can give permission on MyEssex.

Student groups

Lifelong friendships start here

Essex students develop a sense of belonging and form lifelong friendships. When it comes to 'the student experience' Essex students consistently rate us highly, we have one of the highest numbers of clubs and societies per student in the UK, and our campuses are friendly places. 


Many people live at home during university and these students will often form friendships with other commuters.

Mature students

It is not uncommon for mature students to find it difficult at first to juggle other commitments with their university life. There are opportunities for them to contact others in similar situations.

Our community

The Essex community is diverse, and there many opportunities for students to meet others in similar or different circumstances and experiences and to access relevant support.

Sign up to our friends and family newsletter

We produce a regular newsletter for the friends and family of Essex students to keep them up-to-date with news and events from the University. To sign up, email friends@essex.ac.uk.