Candidates standing for the Edinburgh University Students’ Association elections, held at the start of this month, had more similarities than just their aggressive campaigning techniques (exemplified by the student spotted in George Square with a poster of his own face strapped to his rucksack). Many of those vying to be our next events officer or the like had manifestos with at least some focus on the pastoral role the university plays, and an admittance that there are many who think the administration should have more of a proactive role in student welfare.
This is why it’s important we have The Advice Place: an on-campus location where you can drop in and gain advice on everything from the technicalities of correct citations, to accommodation queries, to more serious health and wellbeing issues. Even those who would like the university to have minimal interference in student lives must admit that having a place where you can gain. As they say on their website, “free, impartial and confidential information on everything and anything that our members need to know”, is an invaluable resource.
The Advice Place does not only offer help on mental health issues, yet this alone would be incredibly constructive. It is interesting that schools have trained pastoral staff, and that office jobs have HR teams, yet universities are consistently able to shirk their pastoral responsibilities. The existence of The Advice Place proves that the Students’ Association are trying to take their responsibilities seriously. However, underpromotion of it is a serious disservice to a vital component of student life.
All this week I asked those in my tutorials whether they knew where the Advice Place was, or if they had heard of it. Once my slightly ad-hoc student sample groups had gotten over the panic of being directly addressed, their feedback was dire, with many not knowing what I was talking about whatsoever.
Before ‘researching’ this article, I was under the impression that most had a vague idea of where The Advice Place was, but not really what it offered. If you were seeking it out, perhaps, you could find it online, but this is where the idea of proactiveness comes in again. If I knew there was a place on campus I could ask a trained professional something, I would undoubtedly use it; the minute I have to start looking, it feels to me like a step has been missed out.
There is also slight Kings Campus discrimination. At Kings Buildings advice is only available from 11am to 2pm from Mondays to Thursdays. Science and medicine degrees are difficult, and their contact hours are loaded, so the fact that they receive less advice than George Square students is confusing.
The fact that The Advice Place exists is brilliant. So it would also be brilliant if the Students’ Association promoted their service more. Email us. Tell us about it when we arrive at the university in one of our one hundred and one welcome packs. Tweet about it. Point it out in lectures. Obviously, with a community as large as this one, not everyone will be reached, but a push in advertising would be beneficial for pastoral care and student experience at the university.
You can contact The Advice Place by either:
- emailing them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- calling them on; 01316509225 / 08002062341 (both of which are freephone)
- Or, by finding them at their offices on the ground floor at Potterow in Bristo Square (Opening Hours: (9:30 Am- 5Pm, Monday – Friday. 10:30 Am – 6Pm: Wednesdays and Thursdays) or at their offices at King’s Buildings (Opening Hours 11Am-2Pm: Monday-Thursday).
- You can also find out more about them at their website
Image: Saeed Fedah via Wikimedia Commons