Hello Abe,
Even though it’s still really early in the semester I still feel that I’m heaps behind. I’ve got more assignments due than I know how to deal with. I’m starting to feel really stressed and finding my studies are suffering even more – it’s a vicious cycle. Can you give me some ideas that will help me?
Busy
_____________

Dear Busy,
This is the time of the semester when many students start to feel the pressure of assignments being due. Deal with each of those aspects one step at a time. Talk to your tutor now to see if you can arrange an extension. Talk to someone at Counselling and Psychological Services (Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building) or the University’s Health Service (Level 3, Wentworth Building).

The Learning Centre runs free courses for time management. This can help you get your uni work under control while still having a social life. Check out their website at: usyd.edu.au/stuserv/learning_centre. Go to Student Resources then Module 10. This is an online resource for you to work through in your own time. It’s all really commonsense stuff but makes a real difference when you follow it.

Look at the CAPS website. Workshops coming up soon are listed at: sydney.edu.au/current_students/counselling/workshops/list-of-workshops/index.shtml You can also make an appointment with a counsellor to get individualised advice or thoughts on specific strategies.

If you’ve done all of these things and still can’t cope with your workload you might like to talk to an SRC caseworker about the possibility of withdrawing from a subject. This may attract an academic penalty, but you can at least check out what your options are. If you are on a Centrelink payment tell your caseworker as this might alter how you reduce your workload.

A final word of caution, when students feel pressured they can sometimes be less vigilant about referencing and proper paraphrasing when they write essays. If you know that you are cutting corners it is best to get help before handing your essays in. Talk to a lecturer, the Learning Centre, counsellor or SRC caseworker and ask for help. This is better than putting in an essay you know is not up to your usual standard and then being found guilty of plagiarism.
Abe

Special Consideration

What if I am sick for an assessment or examination? Is there any way not to get a fail?

You can apply for a Special Consideration. Go to the website for your faculty and download the application form. See your doctor (or if yours is not available, any doctor) and get your Professional Practitioner’s Certificate (PPC) completed. This needs to be on the same day that you are sick and should not be backdated. If your doctor is not available you will need to see another doctor. If you are too sick to go to the doctor, find a doctor that will do a house call. There are a few available – you can find them through google. Your doctor should also give a brief description of the things that you are unable to do, eg, attend university, leave bed, sit up for longer than 10 minutes, etc. The doctor will also have to assess the severity of your condition. If you are not severely effected by your illness you might find it difficult to get special consideration.

If you have a valid PPC, and the doctor has assessed that you are severely affected or worse you should almost certainly be granted special consideration. Be aware that you do not have to provide more details about you condition if you would prefer to keep that confidential.

Remember that Special Consideration is for a temporary illness, misadventure or exacerbation of a long term illness. It is not for long term illnesses per se. That should be dealt with through the Disabilities Unit.

What if I am sick for the supplementary examination or every assessment in a subject? Is there any way not to get a fail?

YOU SHOULD NOT GET A FAIL – assuming you have documented why you could not attend/complete each assessment and successfully applied for Special Consideration, as outlined in the policy.

What is the policy?

If they reschedule your exam and assessments, but you are too sick (for example) to attend any again, and you apply for special consideration each time and your applications are approved each time, you should not receive a “fail”. Instead you should be awarded a DNF grade.

A DNF is a Discontinued, Not Fail. Compared to a Fail (or Absent Fail or Discontinued Fail), a DNF is good for your transcript and good for your Annual Average Mark and good for your Weighted Average Mark (WAM).

SO if you can’t do any of the assessments in a subject this semester, or in the future, and you have successfully applied for special consideration EACH TIME, then check that your mark is recorded as a DNF. You should also apply to have a refund or recrediting of your fees. Ask at the faculty office or the SRC for the appropriate forms.

Contact SRC Help
9660 5222 | help@src.usyd.edu.au

Managing Anxiety and your studies

Dear Abe,

Every semester I do really well in the first few weeks, then as the assignments start to come in, I get really stressed out to the point where I stop eating and have insomnia. I don’t have any friends to talk to about this, and my mum just thinks I’m being a sook. I really want to do well this semester so I can graduate and get a job. What advice would you have for me?
Determined.

———
Dear Determined,

I’m sorry to hear that you have been so stressed for so long. It actually sounds like you suffer from anxiety. That’s not being a sook. That’s having a legitimate medical condition. I would urge you to see a doctor to talk about it. Sometimes doctors aren’t very good at helping people with illnesses like that, so if you need help finding a good doctor that bulk bills ask an SRC caseworker. You can also register with the disabilities unit. You might be able to get later deadlines for assignments and extra time in exams. Try to be realistic about what you can achieve in a semester. It is far better to enroll in 2 subjects and pass them, than to enroll in 4 subjects and fail 2 of them. I understand that there are restrictions on the number of subjects you need to do to receive a Centrelink payment or satisfy visa conditions, but you may be able to gain an exemption. If you are not sure where to start make an appointment with an SRC caseworker.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

What is Plagiarism and what to do if you are accused of it.

Your marker needs to know where you got the words and ideas from in your work. Unless you clearly tell them (by using quotes and references) that it is someone else’s words or ideas they will assume it’s all yours. If the marker finds words from a source that you have not told them about then they will think you are cheating.

The University acknowledges two types of plagiarism.

Negligent Plagiarism not giving correct acknowledgement to copied work, due to accidentally forgetting to follow the correct referencing practices. This can arise from a student’s fear of paraphrasing or writing in their own words, and/or ignorance of this Policy and Procedure.
Dishonest Plagiarism means knowingly presenting another person’s Work as one’s own Work without Acknowledgement of the Source. It is also considered plagiarism if you copy a previous assignment of your own. Alleged Plagiarism will be deemed to be alleged Dishonest Plagiarism where:

a. substantial proportions of the Work have been copied from the Work of another person,
in a manner that clearly exceeds the boundaries of Legitimate Cooperation;

b. the Work contains a substantial body of copied material (including from the Internet) without Acknowledgement of the Source, and in a manner that cannot be explained as Negligent Plagiarism;

c. in the case of a student preparing Work for Assessment, there is evidence that the student engaged another person to produce or conduct research for the Work, including for payment
or other consideration; or

d. the student has previously received a Written Warning.

Penalties can range from having to resubmit the piece of work to a fail in the assessment for negligent plagiarism. For dishonest plagiarism you may be referred to the Registrar for a formal investigation. In extreme or repeat cases this can lead to suspension from University.
Most faculties will show you how to reference properly. Using the excuse of being rushed, or having too many things to do, or just forgetting because of the way you write your essays are simply not good enough. Make the effort to keep your quotes linked to their sources while you are drafting your essay.

What to do if you receive a plagiarism allegation?

1. Understand why the allegation has been made.

2. Learn from your mistakes. Seek help from someone in the faculty who can help you identify ways your referencing and paraphrasing can improve. You can also talk to the Learning Centre (www.usyd.edu.au/lc).

3. Bring an SRC caseworker to your meeting with the faculty. Be as honest as you can.

4. Decide if you want to appeal the finding and/or the penalty. You have 15 working days to appeal. Bear in mind that you could end up with a more severe penalty.

5. Come to SRC HELP with a draft appeal letter if you wish to appeal, and we can give
you advice.

6. If you have been referred to the Registrar for an investigation – either because it was considered so serious or because it was the second time – come to SRC HELP for advice and representation.

9660 5222 | help@src.usyd.edu.au

Ask Abe – How to Discontinue but NOT Fail

Dear Abe,

Is it true that I can change all of my subject choices before the end of March? The Faculty says that I could only do
that in week one. What is the real story?

Changeable

—-

Dear Changeable,

You cannot enroll in new classes after 14th March. In fact it’s probably not a good idea to enroll past week one mainly because you would have missed out on vital information in the first week of classes.

You can however ‘withdraw’ before the “HECS census date”. This will give you no academic penalty and no financial penalty if you are a local student or little financial penalty for International students.

If you drop a subject after the census date, but before the end of week 7 (17th April – remember, the 18th is a public holiday so the end of the week is Thursday not Friday) you will receive a Discontinue Not Fail (DNF). A DNF does not count as a fail on your transcript, however you are liable for fees.

There are occasions where you have extraordinary circumstances that mean you have to discontinue from studies at a later date. Come and see SRC HELP caseworkers for advice about late DNF applications and possible fee refund applications.

Abe

——

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Harrassment & Discrimination: Your rights at Uni

“All staff, students and affiliates at the University have a right to work or study in an environment that is free from unlawful harassment and discrimination, and to be treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of their background,
beliefs or culture.”

What is Unlawful Harassment?

The University defines unlawful harassment as any type of behaviour that:

  • the other person does not want; and
  • offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates them; and is either:
    – sexual, or
    – targets them because of their race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, transgender, sexual preference or orientation (including homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and heterosexuality), disability, age, carers’ responsibility, political belief, lack of a political belief, lack of a particular political belief (including trade union activity or lack of it, and student association activity or lack of it), religious belief, lack of a religious belief, and/or lack of a particular religious belief; and
  • that, in the circumstances, a reasonable person should have expected would offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate.
    This includes actual, potential and perceived (imputed) race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, etc.

Some types of harassment, such as sexual harassment and other forms of physical assault and/or stalking, are also illegal under criminal law. These types of harassment may result in criminal prosecution.

Other types of harassment may not be ‘unlawful’ under anti-discrimination legislation, but may nonetheless contravene the University’s staff and student Codes of Conduct or the University’s Workplace Bullying Prevention Policy and Resolution Procedure.

What is Unlawful Discrimination?

The University defines unlawful discrimination as any practice that makes an unlawful distinction between individuals or groups,
so as to disadvantage some people and advantage others. Discrimination may be ‘direct’ (specifically acting against someone)
or ‘indirect’ (inadvertently acting against someone who has a particular characteristic).

What should you do?

If you think you are being discriminated against or harassed make detailed notes about days and times of the incidents noting any potential witnesses. Your safety is an immediate concern. Talk to an SRC caseworker about how to make a complaint and what possible outcomes there are. Remember that a caseworker can give you an idea of what you can expect without forcing you to take action unless you want to.

Contact us

help@src.usyd.edu.au or call to make an appointment on 9660 5222. We can arrange to meet with you on any campus.

Ask Abe – Tenancy

Hi Abe,

I moved into a place in Stanmore at the beginning of February. I paid my bond and 4 weeks rent in advance. Now that I’ve lived there a while I really hate it and want to move out. The house itself is dark and gloomy and I don’t really like my neighbourhood. I told my landlord but she said I had to stay until the end of my contract. This is a real problem because I’ve already signed a lease for another room in a different house. Please help me.

Doubled Up

—–

Dear Doubled Up,

There are 2 types of renters: tenants and borders/lodgers. Tenants are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act (2010). It sets down rules for both you and your landlord. In the situation you have described you want to “break your lease early”. As a tenant you would have to pay a penalty of between 4 and 6 weeks rent in addition to rent up on till the day you move out. If you have maintained your room in good order you should receive a refund of your bond.

You may be able to convince your landlord to let you find someone else to take over your lease in exchange for no or a reduced penalty. They are under no obligation to do this.

If you are a border/lodger you are covered by the contract that you signed. There is usually some clause in there about how to break the contract early. Again, you may be able to convince your landlord to allow you to find someone to take over your contract. If this doesn’t work you might like to speak to the SRC Lawyer about breaking your contract with as little financial penalty as possible.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe gathers his answers from experts in a number of areas. Coupled with his own expertise on dealing with people, living on a low income and being a dog, Abe’s answers can provide  you excellent insight.

Tips for living on little money

Many students are forced to live on very little money while they are studying. Here are some ideas that might help you get by.

LOANS, BURSARIES & SCHOLARSHIPS

University Financial Assistance Office: 9351 2416
Loans are interest free and bursaries do not need to be repaid. Talk to them about your situation and they’ll guide you to the most suitable option.

Scholarships Office (University & Government scholarships) 8627 8450
There is range of different ways to qualify for a scholarship. Talk to the University about which ones you’re eligible for and how to apply. There are also some competitions you could enter that have cash prizes.

SRC Emergency loans up to $50 are good to fill that gap the day before payday or if you forget your wallet. 9660 5222

MANAGING MONEY

Many students are forced to live on very little money while they are studying. Here are some ideas that might help you get by.

When you don’t have enough money to make little mistakes it is a good idea to have a budget plan. Write down how you are going to spend money each week, including putting some aside for unforeseen expenses if you can. Look for “leaks” that can help you to save a bit more. Look at: www.moneyminded.com.au
www.wesleymission.org.au/centres/creditline “budget planner”.

DEALING WITH DEBTS

The SRC Legal Service will work with you to clear your debts. This service is free to undergraduate students.
If you have a problem with gambling, free, confidential help is available at the University. Call 9351 6346 for more information.

HAPPY HOUSING

Cheap quality accommodation is hard to get. Most of the cheap options go very quickly, so you’ll have to be patient and flexible. If you are in urgent need of housing ask an SRC Caseworker about emergency accommodation.
If you are about to move into a home or if you are behind in rent and are on the lease you might be eligible for Rentstart through Housing Pathways (Housing NSW).

PHONE

Pre-paid accounts allow you to give yourself a fixed budget for phonecalls. Encourage your friends to call you or text to make a skype date. Viber and Whatsapp also allow you to make free texts or calls. However, be aware that you are using your internet for this.

FREE FOOD, CHEAP FOOD

There is no reason to be hungry if you live in Sydney. There are many places around Sydney that offer free meals and a few that may do food parcel. http://www.newtowncentre.org/_pdfs/meals.pdf

HEALTH

Bulk billing (or direct billing) doctors means that you will not be charged for the appointment. This is covered on Medicare and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). eg University Health Service in Wentworth and Holme buildings.

Safer sex is important. You can pick up free condoms from the SRC office, Level 1 Wentworth Building.

Clean needles and injecting packs are available from the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS). Call their 24 hour confidential telephone service on 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599. Some chemists do needle and syringe exchange. In Newtown this includes Chemist
on King, Ford’s Pharmacy and Rainbow Chemist. In Auburn there’s Alpha Pharmacy and Rite Aid Pharmacy. There’s also Camden Pharmacy and Adore Pharmacy Rozelle.

Dentists can be super expensive on a student budget. But your teeth are important. There are some limited services you may be able to access for free. Speak to SRC HELP caseworkers.

Australian citizens and permanent residents can apply for a Low Income Health Card Card if you earn $501 a week or less, or get a Centrelink student payment. This gives you a reduced price on prescription drugs, free ambulance cover etc.

help@src.usyd.edu.au | (02) 9660 5222

Abe gives tips for success at uni

Dear Abe,

I’ve attended all of the sessions and stalls available at O week.  I was wondering if there was anything else I needed to know to be able to do well at this degree.

Just a Little Bit


Dear Just a Little Bit,

I’ve seen lots of different types of people go through uni and I reckon there’s a bit of a recipe for success.

Attend all of your classes and do all of your readings.  This sounds like more work than just bluffing your way through tutorials, but you’ll actually pick things up much quicker and have a better understanding of the material.  Assessments and exams will also be easier to prepare for and you will score better marks.  Most importantly you are less likely to fail anything, meaning you won’t have to repeat a subject.

Check out the Learning Centre courses as soon as you can.  Some people say they have no time to do these extra courses, but actually putting in the time for them now, will save you heaps of time later.  Generally speaking people who get help from the learning centre will improve their marks by one grade.  That is, if you had got a pass for that assignment you’d probably get a credit with the Learning Centre’s help.  Check out their website too, they have great modules on referencing properly, time management and a bunch of other topics.

Deal with any problems you have during the semester WHEN THEY HAPPEN.  Talk to SRC HELP or someone in the Faculty to get whatever it is you need.
Most of all allow yourself to have fun.  This should be an awesome time of your life.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog.  This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything.  This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world.  Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au.  Abe gathers his answers from experts in a number of areas.  Coupled with his own expertise on dealing with people, living on a low income and being a dog, Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Welcome to the Big House… (well, not in a prison kind of way)…

It doesn’t matter how big your school was, it was not as big as this place.  This place even has its own postcode, which makes it even bigger than the Rooty Hill RSL.  Even the satellite campuses are many times bigger than most high schools.  So whilst adjusting to this change can be exciting and challenging, it can also be down right horrifying.

The workload here is significantly higher than for most high schools.  There is less individual direction and increasingly larger class sizes.  The onus really is on you to stay focused and do lots of work to learn all of the required information.  Most students will tell you that you don’t have to do the readings before tutorials or read all the resources you list in your assignments.  What they won’t tell you is that this is an extremely stressful way of not doing very well at uni.  Being full time at uni is definitely more work than being a full time worker. We don’t mean to alarm you, we’re just telling it like it is. But don’t despair, there are ways to make it work for you.

Studies have shown that if you don’t make some sort of attachment to the uni by about week six you’ll find it very difficult to be successful in your degree. What do we mean by attachment? Your attachment may be that you’ve met some other people who like the same hobbies as you, so check out all of the different clubs and societies available through the Union.  If you get the chance, go through the O-Week stalls so that you can meet them face-to-face and join straight away.  If not, you can also find them online and go along to a meeting.

Your attachment may be your love for the subject material.  Take the time to complete at least the required readings so that the lectures make sense to you.  Attending classes is compulsory for a reason, so save the socialising for another time.  Most people say that doing the reading before attending the class (not to mention paying attention whilst you’re there) makes the exams a lot easier.

Your attachment may be as simple as meeting a new friend or potential new partner.  This is always exciting.  Remember to have (safe, consensual) fun, but don’t neglect the main reason you are here. You are now a University of Sydney student. Embrace it like you would a blossoming new romance.

Remember that most people feel just as nervous and out of place as you do – even the students that have come to USYD already equipped with friends from high school.  The best thing that you can do is to try to be yourself, be
open to meeting new people and having new experiences, and know that if you ever need to talk to someone, USYD has a free counseling service.
Another area of difference to high school is the increase to your own personal freedom.

The University prefers to treat you as an adult.  You are free to make your own decisions about alcohol and other drugs, and sexual activity.

If you have questions about anything to do with these feel free to contact the SRC.  We can always point you in the direction of reliable and non-judgemental information.

Living in Sydney is increasingly difficult for anyone on a limited budget.  Where you live needs to be affordable so you’re not spending more than 10 – 15 hours a week working (for a full time student) to be able to support yourself.  It needs to be stable, so you are not worrying about whether you’ll have somewhere to live next week, or whether your flatmates are going to pay their rent.  It needs to be appropriate.  Some students we have met were sleeping on a balcony in the middle of winter and not getting very much sleep…probably not the best idea they’ve ever had. Exhaustion and illness does not a good student make. Having trouble with accommodation? You guessed it; the SRC can help you out.

Always remember that you are not alone here.  There are lots of people willing to help you settle in.  The trick is to ask.

help@src.usyd.edu.au  |  (02) 9660 5222