Students welcomed back to our universities

Published: 10th September 2020

Universities are welcoming students back after what has been for staff a frenetic summer and for new and returning students an anxious one. The traditional Freshers’ or Welcome Week around the end of September will be unlike any other in the history of Higher Education in the UK. Even now, writing this in mid September it’s impossible to predict what life at university will be like in these COVID-19 days but there will be some constants, new friends, different challenges and maybe a new home town. Four of the diocese’s university chaplains have come together to offer these top tips for university life.

Stephanie Couvela - Anglican chaplain at Keele UniversityThrow yourself in

Stephanie Couvela - Keele University

Even though this year at uni will be a different experience it can still be a great time! My top tip is to throw yourself in – look for societies to join, whether that’s for activities you’ve enjoyed in the past or something you never even thought of trying before. Lots of things will be happening on line which makes it even easier to drop in and see what you think. You’ll soon find your feet!

Revd Sarah Schofield - Wolverhampton UniversityDon’t be afraid to ask

Sarah Schofield - University of Wolverhampton

It’s easy to assume that everyone knows how to do things and you are the only one who is confused but that’s never the case. This year more than any other everyone will be learning new ways of doing things and inventing new ways of working - university staff as much as students – so if you don’t think you’ve understood something or you’re feeling a little lost, ask for help. Often by asking for help yourself you make it easier for other people to speak up as well.

Fi Iddon - chaplain at University of Chester at ShrewsburyEveryone feels nervous

Fi Iddon - University of Chester at Shrewsbury

If you feel a little nervous, then remember that everyone else feels exactly the same... and that everyone who has ever been to university before has experienced the same worries! People often forget to tell you this once they’ve got stuck in and feel confident, but there may be times in the first few days that are tough. Knowing you aren’t the only one who feels like this, and that it WILL get easier, is really important.  

Great opportunities

Mick Williams - Staffordshire University

Going to University offers a great opportunity to be better educated on many levels if you are brave enough to accept the invitations that come your way. Say yes and sign up with the sporty types to row the channel in the uni gym, go along to the Iftar hosted by the Islamic Society, don a tweed tie and join the malt whisky appreciation group, volunteer to help at the Student Union food bank, sashay your way to the LGBTQ+ karaoke night. Seek to gain loads of new friends and experiences as well as a shiny BA Hons.     

Most people reading this won’t be starting a new university year but you can support students and staff by praying for them and considering how you and your church, if you are a church member, can support students and staff. Students at modern universities are no longer all 18 years on full time courses but all ages, part time, full time and all kinds of backgrounds. Getting to know your local university can be a real revelation if you haven’t had contacts with it before. As a team of chaplains we have valued the mutual support we have given each other over lockdown and have come out the experience stronger as a team. Please pray for us and if you want to know more about our work do not hesitate to contact whichever of us seems appropriate.

As well as the formal chaplaincies, which usually have staff from a variety of denominations and faiths, there are some great organisations supporting Christians at most universities:

  • Student Linkup is an app and resources bundle designed to equip, build up and support young people as they ready themselves for university life.

    The app from Fusion provides them with access to a database of student-friendly churches in their university towns and allows them to communicate with the student worker ahead of time. Register your church here so that students can find you on the app!

    The bundle of resources contain three books; student linkup sessions (a preparation guide for how to start uni well, make the most of opportunities, engage well with uni culture), Studentscape (a devotional series to help young people ground themselves in their relationship with Jesus during uni life) and The Students Alphabet (an A-Z of wisdom on everything from accountability to using a washing machine).

  • SCM (Student Christian Movement) 
  • UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship)
Page last updated: Thursday 17th September 2020 10:18 AM
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