Student Funding Saved My Education
Who are you? Katie Jowett
When did you graduate? 2014
What course did you do? English & History MA (Joint Honours)
Why did you choose the University of Dundee? I had never been to Dundee before I applied, but I had seen the excellent rankings it had for the subjects I wanted to do. I applied, accepted and invited for an applicant open day – my first chance to see what Dundee and the University were really like. I loved it! I thought it was perfect with its city feel but without being too big as you are only five minutes from the countryside.
Where did you hang out as a student? As a student I worked in DUSA The Union so often could be found either in Air Bar or Liar Bar hanging with my friends between classes. We often commandeered a large table at the back and with eight of us revising or catching up with our university work throughout the day there.
Accessing Student Funding
By Christmas of my final year I was ready to pack it all in and leave University behind. I was broke and miserable, it not only stopped me from going out or doing things with my friends – but stressed me out as well! All I could think about was can I pay my rent this month? Do I have enough to print my essay off? Is there enough food in the house to make a meal? This often meant that I was distracted in class, which was noticed by my lecturers and my friends. Then there was a family issue at home and I had to cope with being 300 miles away from them.
Having worked part-time at DUSA The Union throughout my first three years at University I went from having regular income to none in my final year, because of the course workload and my obligations as a non-sabbatical member of the DUSA Executive. I suddenly found that there wasn’t enough time to dedicate myself to my studies and work part-time too. This was a large financial blow as the money I had been making went towards my bills, rent, food and course resources – plus now in fourth year of an English and History MA Honours with a dissertation and a mini dissertation I had lots of books and journals to pay for. Luckily over my time at the University I had been aware of some of the services that were available for students, including the Student Funding Unit. Not realising that they can provide emergency loans, financial tips and advice, as well as their Discretionary Funds. Being involved with the DUSA Exec meant that I had a good understanding of their approach to helping my fellow students, but I wasn’t sure if they could help me. After appearing in the Enquiry Centre one difficult day in tears I was encouraged by Andrea and the Enquiry Centre staff to use the services myself. Filling out a small form for the Discretionary Fund, booking an appointment with Student Funding for advice, with Counselling for support and CASTLE for academic support.
It was through this small action – filling in a two sided A4 form – which lead to a major impact on my life and is why I was able to go on and not only complete my undergraduate degree but do a postgraduate too.
How Student Funding help:
After filling in the form for the Discretionary Fund – which just required information about my expenses and a current bank statement – I was notified by email that the Funding Team had received that application and that I would hear back within 7 days.
In the meantime I discussed with them about how I could save money on my current expenses, got advice on bank accounts, useful information about services on campus such as the Free Shop. Four days later I received another email to say that they would be able to assist me financially through the Discretionary Fund with an immediate payment now and then a smaller payment during semester 2. This meant I was able to do a food shop, not worry about paying my bills and also buy the books for my dissertation (from charity shops and Amazon). It’s amazing how much money worries can impact on every aspect of your day to day life. By helping to take the financial burden and stress off my course work and concentration improved, and even my friends noticed a difference in my mood. The tips the team gave me I still use to this day!
Here are the tips that helped me:
- Shop around – which shops has the best deals? I often just shopped where it was most convenient, buying everything at the one supermarket. This meant that I was paying a lot of money each week. To combat this I began to suss out where provided the best produce. What I found was that I could do a cheaper shop by going to a few different shops. Lidl was cheap, within walking distance and had a great range of fresh vegetables and meat, Tesco had deals on most household products and fish, and being close to town mean that I could also bulk buy things from Home Bargains.
- Save money on your bills There are a couple of ways to save on your bills, you could set up a direct debit – this may give you a discount over all. Be smart about your bills, when do they reach their highest – winter is most likely when your heating bill will go up. Is it therefore cheaper to run your heating at night? Would you benefit from thicker curtains or draught excluder to keep the heat in?
- Charity shops are brilliant Dundee has lots a great charity shops, so many that you could probably get everything you need and more. If you are looking for course books then Oxfam Book Shop has all the books you could want and often has the latest editions donated by last year’s students – you could also nip over to St Andrews to Barnardos book shop. For clothes, you may have seen the British Red Cross recently feature in the news for having designer clothes in store.
- Share resources with your fellow students Some time you have a piece of course work to do but there is only one book in the library about it, and ten of your classmates are doing the same topic. One way to tackle this is to scan the key chapters and share the copies online with them, this allows for you to share the cost of the scanning, means you don’t have to buy a new book for just one chapter and that you can get on with the essay.
- Make meals that will feed you more than once Make casseroles, soups, pasta bakes, anything that uses little ingredients but makes lots of portions. You can then freeze the leftovers and fill your freezer. That way you always have food in the freezer and something quick to make for tea.
Meet the Student Funding Unit
Who are they? Student Funding Unit, University of Dundee
What do they do? Support current students with financial support, tips and advise.
Where do you live? Ground Floor of the OTI (Old Technical Institute – next to the Tower)
Where can I find more information? The Student Funding Website and Newsletter which are full of tips, events and how to apply for their discretionary funds, emergency assistance, childcare funds and Lone Parent Childcare Grant.
Why should students use this service? Student Funding are there to support students in a range of financial areas – financial issues are stressful and can lead to a number of other issues. Therefore student funding provide tips, advise, run workshop, drop in sessions and can also assist with saving money.
What’s coming up?
National Student Money Week 2017 – February 6th to 9th – Campus Green and DUSA.
Deadline for RUK Scholarships & Bursaries – 20th February
Deadline for Discretionary Fund – March 14th