Welcome back to my University life series! This is the last post I’m planning to make, but if there any topics I haven’t covered in the series (read my older posts here) that you want to see please let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help out! The topic of today’s post is one I never really see being talked about and I am so mad at myself for realising way too late just how much my University had to offer! This post will also be particularly relevant for COVID-19, as we’ll be looking at online resources, which is what a lot of students don’t realise they have access to!
When people say ‘University resources’, the first thing people think of is usually things like the physical library, labs, lecturer’s knowledge and perhaps also things like archives and museums on campus (if your University is lucky enough to have these!) and things like access to technology and careers services. These are all great resources, and they’ll all be really useful during your degree. Libraries are obviously the first place most students go to when they want to learn more about a topic or find sources for coursework. Labs are resources used routinely for subjects that require them, and of course you learn from your lecturers during class time and if you go to see them outside of timetabled classes for additional support. So, when all students have access to these things, it can really help to look elsewhere for more under-utilised resources to help your work stand out. Many Universities have archives and original documents that can be really great sources. The caveat for this of course is that how useful these resources are to you will depend entirely on your course/modules and what your University has available. The same goes for if you have any collections on display or museums that you can make use of. They’re great additional resources, but might not be relevant to your studies.
Students, including myself, often don’t realise the extent of their online resources. And of course, during a pandemic, online resources are probably the most useful thing a University can offer its students. Of course the library has access to things like ebooks, but what about external databases? Newspapers that keep content behind a pay wall? Even streaming services? Now, not every University will have the same access to all of these things, and I’m speaking from my experience. But it’s possible that your online library will contain a list of online databases that you can have access to as a student of the University and this can be incredibly extensive. Much of these databases will be journals or sites that have a lot of academic articles (rise up JSTOR!) available, which are obviously really useful sources. Usually with these kinds of sites you’ll be required to log in, and there will be an option to “log in via your institution”. To access these, I just had to find my University in the drop down menu, and then I logged in using my University details. This was honestly my primary method of finding sources during my degree because I found the library so hard to navigate and generally disliked being there. So much was available online, however, that I never felt like I was at a loss. I did still use physical books throughout my degree, of course, but so much of my secondary criticism came from finding academic articles on online databases.
You might be thinking that you already knew all of this if you’re a current student. These are the resources that get promoted the most by your lecturers. But the list of online resources doesn’t end there. I mentioned streaming services earlier, and there were some incredible ones that I had free access to as a student. Obviously the intention is to give students access to these so they can use them for things relevant to their course but there’s nothing to say you can only use these for things directly relevant to your course! I had access to a site called Box of Broadcasts (BoB), which is a database of broadcasts from free to view channels. The site has an academic focus so you probably won’t find your favourite BBC drama on there, but there’s loads of things that you could watch that may well be useful to your course — e.g. TV adaptations of books you’re reading, or scientific programs as well as things you might just be interested in watching. Another really exciting site I discovered far too late into my degree was Digital Theatre+, where you can get access to recordings of theatre productions, as well as additional content!
The final thing that I’m sure everyone is aware of is student discounts. I personally never paid for an NUS+ card as the majority of places accept the free NUS card I had that doubled as my University ID card or a free app like UniDays or Student Beans that just require your University email address to verify. It’s always best to have options for which discount service you use, because some places only accept UniDays, or some are only on Student Beans. This obviously isn’t a resource your University offers per se, but it’s still something to be aware of!
I hope this has been useful for readers! University students really do have access to so much through their institution, and I was so frustrated I didn’t realise the extent of it until third year. Hopefully I’ll have helped some students a bit earlier in their journey to make the most of what your University has to offer. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything else about Uni life you’d like me to cover, and also if there’s anything that I’ve missed! Did your University offer something really cool?