The University will soon begin its assessment period, which is challenging and stressful for students at the best of times. Currently, many within our community are dealing with the impact of traumatic political events, both here in Australia and abroad. And as at any other time, students may be managing their studies alongside personal struggles.

Many of us are wondering what we can do to help. This post contains important resources available to students in times of need. You can help by sharing this information with your students, encouraging them to reach out for support, and being kind and understanding.

1. Provide special consideration

Special consideration is intended to provide equitable academic treatment for students whose performance in an assessment task or exam has been significantly affected by extenuating or special circumstances beyond their control. Not only does special consideration help students to accurately show their capabilities in assessment, it’s also UTS policy to ensure that it is available to all students. Take some time to discuss special consideration in your communications or in class, and share the Special consideration process page with your students so that they can familiarise themselves with the request process.

2. Refer students to UTS Counselling

Students who are experiencing personal, psychological, study-related and administrative difficulties should be referred to the UTS Counselling Service, who offer confidential support in a range of situations, plus self-help resources. The Counselling Service is available to all current domestic and international UTS students in Australia. For UTS students outside of Australia, the Counselling Service can assist in arranging a counsellor in their home country. Visit the Counselling service and self-help page for more information. There are also a number of external organisations that provide free mental health support over the phone or via webchat:

3. Share connections to community

Social isolation and loneliness can lead to significant mental health risks, including anxiety and depression, and can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Everyone deals with things differently, and while some may prefer to have space, others might look for community.

There are a number of student associations at UTS that provide opportunities for students to connect with peers based on shared interests. The Support Groups and advocacy page, UTS Students’ Association, ActivateUTS and the Multi-Faith chaplaincy are good sources for students to discover like-minded people to connect with.

4. Inform students about financial support

Young people and students can be especially vulnerable to the rising costs of living. The Financial Assistance Service offers appointments either face-to-face or online for students seeking support and guidance (eligibility details are listed here). There are also services available to help UTS students access free groceries and meals.

More information about external food services is available on the Financial Assistance Service page.

5. Be kind, understanding and flexible

There are so many reasons why students might be struggling right now. A compassionate, gentle and understanding approach can make a huge difference in helping students to cope with stress, stay on track and be successful in their studies. Take a moment to communicate with your students through online channels or in class, let them know that help is available and that you care about their wellbeing. When students come to you for support, be open and accommodating. Your kindness may be the thing that keeps someone from dropping out or experiencing mental health crisis.

We know that many people in our community are greatly affected by catastrophic events unfolding overseas. Read advice from our LX.lab colleague Elham Hafiz, who wrote from her own experience about how to help students who are watching war break out in their home country.

And finally – staff are also affected by everything mentioned in this post. As we take care of our students, so must we take care of each other, and of ourselves too. UTS Staff can access the Employee Assistance Program (link requires staff login) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for confidential consultations, information and resources, connections to community agencies, as well as referrals to counselling and additional support (both virtually and in-person).

Over the past few years, individuals at UTS and the community as a whole have shown our capacity to look after each other. Let’s keep it going.

Join the discussion