Student services

The staff working in student services can help with a wide range of issues outside your actual coursework, that may be getting in the way of you being able to focus on your studies.

The Student Services Office is based at the Stornoway Campus. At the start of term, there will be specific times when you can come and see us. Other than that we operate an open door policy. We cannot always deal with your issues immediately but can schedule an appointment to discuss a specific issue at a mutually convenient time.

For all students, we can be contacted via email and telephone and will aim to help and support you, wherever you may be. See also staff profiles below, if you know who you want to speak to.

General queries

College Counsellor

e-counselling

Finance and money

Finance and money

We can help with:

  • Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and Bursary applications, payments and queries
  • Travel costs - bus passes and travel costs for eligible Further Education Students
  • Discretionary and Childcare Funds - for both Further and Higher Education, funds are limited and means-tested
  • Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) queries
  • Benefit queries - what you can claim when you are a student
  • Council Tax reduction/exemption - see Reception or adminle@uhi.ac.uk to get a letter

We can also provide Foodbank vouchers for students based on Lewis and Harris.  Reception staff at our Benbecula campus can provide food parcels for Uist-based students from the Trussel Trust who run the Western Isles Foodbank.

Health and welfare

Health and welfare

You may have problems at home, a health issue that is worrying you, or be facing homelessness or housing problems.  You can talk to us in confidence about any issues that are affecting you.

Registering with a Doctor

If you have moved away from home to attend Lews Castle College UHI you should register with a local doctor. This is important because:

  • Getting medical attention can be difficult if you are suddenly taken ill and have not registered with a GP
  • Absence from college for a period of five days or more requires a medical certificate (self-certification is OK for up to five days)

NHS24.scot provides comprehensive up-to-date health information and self-care advice for people living in Scotland. Call 111 outside surgery hours or for general queries about health.

Generally, being a student does not entitle you to automatic discounts on optician and dental  charges, however, other circumstances may mean you are entitled to free or discounted charges.  You must complete an HC1 application form that is available from most Doctors, Dental Surgeries, Chemists, Benefits Offices or Post Offices.

For more information on entitlement, contact the NHS Patient Enquiry Line:

  • tel: 0845 850 1166

Meningitis

You can protect yourself against meningitis and septicaemia. New Government Policy gives all students entering University for the first time a chance to get immunisation against meningitis. Find out how to get this important vaccination. For more information read this guidance.

Welfare

In Student Services we can help with a wide variety of issues and put you in touch with outside agencies that provide specialist help and information, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Western Isles Foyer Project, CnES Homelessness Service, Breathing Space, CAHMS etc.

You can talk to us or contact us in confidence. Call in or contact us on:

Counselling

Counselling

We have a college counsellor who offers face to face counselling at the Stornoway Campus.

She is completely independent of the college and you can arrange an appointment to speak to her:

This service is completely confidential. She is also qualified to do telephone counselling, for our students who are based outside Stornoway.

UHI also has an e-counselling service, which is open to all students. To find out more:

Disability

Disability

Many people have some additional study support needs - this may be for a condition such as dyslexia or a physical or mental health issue.

Some people may only need help and support for a short time, whilst others may require it for the duration the course of the whole academic year.

Support can include different exam arrangements, extra tutor support assistive technology or extra time to complete assessments. Our aim is to help you to be able to achieve the best qualifications that you can whilst you are with us.

Please contact us to talk about your requirements. This may involve working with you to produce a Personal Learning Support Plan.

Whatever the issue, please contact Student Services as soon as possible to discuss your needs. You will need to provide evidence of any disability or health condition.

If you are on a HNC, HND degree or postgraduate qualification, you may be eligible to apply for support through the Disabled Student Allowance, through SAAS or your regional funding body if you are not a Scottish student.  Again, please ask for further information from Student Services.

Childcare

Childcare

If you are looking for help with the cost of childcare whilst you are a student, the college has some funds that may help.

However, these funds are cash-limited and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. The care must be with a registered childcare provider e.g. childminder, nursery or after school club.

You also have to meet certain eligibility criteria and apply for the funding before you start your course.

We only pay for childcare during college term-time, not the college holidays. Payments are made direct to the childcare provider and are made in arrears. 

Please contact Student Services as soon as you are thinking about coming to college to discuss how we might be able to help.

An Cotan Nursery, Stornoway

The College has some places reserved at our own nursery, An Cotan for students. However, places are limited so you need to talk to the Nursery Manager, Erica Gearty and Student Services as soon as you can.

An Cotan Childcare Centre is next door to the college’s Stornoway Campus, within the grounds of Lews Castle. The building has been designed to provide a warm, safe and caring environment in which children have opportunities for learning through play with challenging educational activities and materials.

An Cotan can accommodate 35 children at any one time, nine under 2 year olds, ten 2-3 year olds and sixteen 3-5 year olds. Each of these age groups has their own room.

There are 10 staff members, including the Nursery Manager and a team of regular relief staff. To ensure that An Cotan delivers a high standard of care and education, it is regularly inspected by the Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) and HM Inspectorate of Education.

If you require further information please contact:

Other childcare providers

College funds can be used to pay for other nurseries or childminders as long as they are Registered Childcare Providers.

Careers

Careers

If you are looking for help and guidance around your next steps after college, we may be able to help - ask Student Services for more information.

Skills Development Scotland

We can refer people on to Skills Development Scotland who offer an all-round careers service to school students and those taking qualifications at levels 3 to 6. We can refer students to the local office as appropriate:

  • call 01851 708900 for the Stornoway Office
  • call 01870 604 926 or 927 for the Benbecula Office

See also My World Of Work.

UHI Careers Centre

If you are taking an HNC, HND, degree or postgraduate qualification, you can use the UHI Careers Centre. This is a virtual centre, staffed by real people who are experts in their field.

Their services include:

  • Jobs database - you can register for details of jobs to be notified to you
  • CV Health Check - is your CV up to scratch?
  • Interview advice
  • One to one guidance sessions - via telephone or VC, as well as an email advice service
  • Advice sheets on job related topics
  • Information about graduate placement schemes
  • and much more

The UHI Careers and Alumni Facebook page is also full of interesting opportunities and valuable tips and news. Like it and Follow it to keep up to date.

Care Experienced

Care Experienced

Care Experienced Students and Lews Castle College UHI

Why are we doing this?

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014  gave public bodies a responsibility to understand the lives of Scotland’s looked after young people and respond to their needs as any parent would.

This law tries to help to address the difference in attainment between those who are care-experienced and their counterparts. Care experienced young people are more likely to achieve fewer qualifications, become homeless or end up in prison than they are to get a good job or get a degree. This is because of the difficulties faced by care-experienced young people, the disrupted nature of their education and home life – both of which are out of the young person’s control.

At Lews Castle College UHI we want to encourage more college and university applications from care leavers and anyone who has previously been cared for by a local authority, to help to change this picture and give care-experienced young people the support they need to achieve their goals and ambitions.

Who is care-experienced?

This means you have been in foster care, were cared for by friends or relatives, were in residential care or were cared for at home with support from Social Services and are under the age of 26. We are committed to supporting you if you have a background in care.

Your local contact

Kate Mawby, Student Support Services Manager. You can contact her by:

What support and help do we offer?

We can offer help and support in various areas;

  1. Applying for a course
  2. Funding questions and queries
  3. Study support and personal support
  4. Help with accommodation
  5. Support for your next step when you have finished at college

1. Applying to College or University

We will try to make sure you have the information you need to get into college or university. You can contact Kate Mawby with any questions you have. You can do this as early when you are still at school, when you are choosing your subjects, right up until you apply to us to take a course.

Tick the Box!

When you apply for a place at college/university, and when you enrol, you will be asked to indicate on your form if you have ever been in care. This does not have any negative effect and this information remains confidential. It is a positive step to take, as it lets us know that your education may have been disrupted and gives us the opportunity to offer additional support. It also helps us to understand your financial position better and to be able to offer appropriate advice and help. We will contact you to arrange an informal chat when we can make sure you are aware of the support that is available for you at college.

If you would like to visit the Stornoway Campus before you start, get in touch with Kate to organise an individual campus tour. If you are based in the Southern Isles or on the mainland, get in touch via the phone or email (above) so that we can sort something out for you.

2. Funding Help

We can help you to complete your bursary or EMA funding application and make sure you will get paid at the start of term. If you are studying at HNC, HND or degree level, we can  tell you about the new care leavers bursary available from SAAS (the Student Awards Agency Scotland).

We can also explain about our Discretionary Funds, which is money you may be eligible for once we know what your circumstances are. We can help with the application for these funds, and we can help you with any benefits you may be entitled to claim whilst you are still a student.

Student Services is open during the Summer holiday, so you can always get in touch with someone here and we are a small team, so it is the same people you talk to each time.

If you are taking an HNC, HND or a degree, we will help you with the costs of attending graduation (gown hire, photos etc) when you have completed your course.

3. Study Support and Personal Support

Once you have accepted a place to study with us, we have a range of support services here to help all students, some of which may be helpful for you.   We are proud of our reputation for being friendly and helpful, but your first year can still feel a bit daunting, so we are here to help whatever the problem – if we can’t help, we can point you in the direction of someone who can.

With your agreement, someone from Student Services will meet with you from time to time to make sure things are going OK for you. This is a chance to make sure that you are getting on well on the course and to discuss any problems you may have.  We can then look to see how we can help. Solutions can be as simple as help with putting in an application for Discretionary Funding, getting some extra help from a tutor, booking an appointment with our counsellor, or giving you a bit of flexibility with the attendance requirements when things are tough.

We can also make sure your tutors are aware of anything that will help you to get on with your studies. Our class sizes tend to be small, so you will get to know your tutors quite well. Every student has a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT), and this person is the one you should talk to about any academic matters that are worrying you.

4. Accommodation

We understand that accommodation requirements are often particularly important for students leaving care.  The Bridge Centre provides student accommodation in Stornoway, although the college does not run it, and this can be available all year round if you are a student, including the summer holiday period.

We also work with the Bayhead Foyer (helping under 25s with housing and independent living) and the local authority to ensure you have somewhere to stay all year round.

If you are studying at HNC/HND or degree level, there is help for covering the costs of housing during the summer vacation through the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). We can show you how to apply for this.

5. When you are finishing college

Finally, we aim to give you the support you need to show your ability and successfully complete your course with us.  If you are coming to the end of your course and thinking about what to do next, we can help to put you in touch with people who can help you to make the next step. You can get help to put together a CV and help with application forms for jobs – and help where to find the best opportunities.

If you have any questions or queries whilst you are with us, you can get in touch with our small Student Services team and we will do our best to help.

Finally

We are here to help to support you and to ensure you can get the education you want. We will take your views, needs and specific requirements into account and want to hear from you if you have ideas about where we can improve.

Remember

  • All discussions with us are strictly confidential
  • No question is too small or too silly
  • We can offer a range of help from a five minute chat to regular catch-ups
  • Don’t be alone, we are here to help

Lews Castle College Student Services

  • Kate Mawby – Student Services Manager  - 01851 770280 – kate.mawby@uhi.ac.uk
  • Catherine Kelso – Student Funding Officer – 01851 770242 – catherine.kelso@uhi.ac.uk
  • David Bell – Student Services Officer – 01851 770321 – david.bell@uhi.ac.uk

Useful Links

Catherine Kelso, Student Services

Catherine Kelso

  • Bursary and EMA queries
  • Childcare and Discretionary Funding
  • Bus passes
  • Attendance Policy
David Bell, Student Services

David Bell

  • Further Education Disability
  • Class Representatives
  • Student Events
  • Highlands and islands Student Association (HISA)
Kate Mawby, Student Services

Kate Mawby

  • Higher Education Disability
  • Higher Education Funding queries
  • Childcare and Discretionary Funding
  • Welfare issues
  • UHI Careers