2020 applicants
Welcome new students

Information for families

Advice for family members of students

The world has changed, and so have we...

Over the last three months our community may have become physically distanced, but beyond the physical, our Essex Spirit has brought us closer than ever.

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.

Our priority remains excellence in education. We are now planning how we will ensure as many students as possible will be able to join us in an October. For anyone who is unable to join us in person, our new ways of teaching will allow them to start their courses – with a view to joining us in person as soon as possible.

We are working hard to ensure that we maintain the quality of our teaching and that our new students have an Essex education that prepares them for life after graduation.

Teaching and learning

How will we be teaching following the COVID-19 outbreak?

Our Education Strategy committed us to introducing blended approaches to teaching over the next five years, as we believe they will enhance learning and the student experience. As a result of COVID-19 we have been working at pace and scale to introduce these changes immediately.

This will allow our students to participate whether or not they can attend face-to-face teaching sessions during the course of the academic year. Our students’ learning can be tailored to their needs; with flexibility for them to manage their course at their own pace.

This is not an online degree, but a way for us to deliver teaching that will ensure the continuity of education for all students if there is further disruption or we need to teach with social distancing measures for periods of time. Our goal is to replicate the face-to-face teaching we would normally provide to our students, digitally.

As part of this new approach, most of our courses will now include:

  • Face-to-face teaching via lectures and seminars –if for any reason our students are unable to participate in these they will also be delivered via virtual classrooms and video conferencing platforms.
  • A portion of online learning led by our module tutors designed to provide students with the context and further detail of the topic. This might include some of the following:
    • Webinars;
    • Lectures and tutorials in the University’s virtual learning environment;
    • Collaborative discussions and;
    • Group project work using social media or other meeting platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp or Messenger.

Other elements of learning designed to enable students to engage more easily and manage the pace at which they learn the best. It will also help develop your deeper understanding of the topic. This will usually involve:

  • Self-directed study;
  • Readings and;
  • Online tasks.
  • Students will still engage in an interactive classroom environment in real-time, even if they are online, and they will have access to the resources and materials needed for their course.

    The interactive elements of our courses are integral to the teaching that we offer. We want our students to discuss, debate and tackle key issues together. This style of dual-delivery teaching ensures that we maintain these crucial interactive elements.

All of the measures we will be introducing to make sure that our campuses are as safe as possible following the COVID-19 outbreak

We are doing everything we can to make sure that as many students as possible can come back and join us in October, and that teaching and learning will be able to carry on uninterrupted. This is the case even if some of it needs to be delivered virtually, either due to further stay-at-home requirements or individual illness and the need to self-quarantine.

We will follow all national and international guidance on the reintroduction of more students and staff to our campuses. We are now working on a range of new processes that will allow us to gradually open up our campuses, and if necessary, manage further waves of COVID-19.

We’re making sure social distancing measures will be clear and easy to understand across our campuses. This will include markings on the ground to ensure queues remain distanced, to screens and dividers in study areas to ensure everyone can keep apart safely. We will also reduce class sizes and organise classrooms and lecture halls so students can stay socially distanced while you learn.

Campus cleaning and hygiene

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will introduce the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes;
  • Social distancing in line with Public Health England guidance;
  • Zoning of campus and one way systems to help to manage numbers in high traffic areas;

At both the Colchester and Southend campuses you will be able to walk between accommodation and teaching rooms, as well as all essential services (shops etc). We are also looking at ways we can support transport from airports to minimise public transport requirements.

As it gets closer to October, we will provide you with more information.

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

Over 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 useful study technique is chatting through 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, confidence 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 Evolve gym at Colchester. New students can familiarise themselves with the large campus at Colchester 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! Full information about places, services and facilities on campus features in the campus guide booklet that's also included in the welcome pack.

Support in our student accommodation

Residence Life

We have a network of support on-hand to help all new students get settled in and feel part of the community. This includes Residence Life whose Residents’ Assistants (RAs) are student staff living in campus accommodation. The RAs will be a welcoming face from day one, in addition to their experience as returning students, they are also trained to offer support, advice, and signposting.

Other support on-campus

Nightline, staffed by student volunteers, offers a friendly listening ear at night, plus our professional advice teams within your Student Services Hub and the Students' Union is 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 for 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. That’s why we’re making sure social distancing measures will be clear and easy to understand across our campuses.

This will include markings on the ground to ensure queues remain distanced, to screens and dividers in study areas to ensure everyone can keep apart safely. We will also reduce class sizes and organise classrooms and lecture halls so students can stay socially distanced while you learn.

All our student webpages contain useful 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. We hope this information 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.

Commuters

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. They 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.

 Read our latest newsletter - June 2020

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