How to get the most out of your student levy in 2020

Thanks to the Fees Free gods’ blessing me with their favour, I didn’t have to pay for any of my university fees last year, including the mystical unicorn that is the Student Services Levy, more commonly known as the ‘SSL’. Even though the UC website describes the SSL as, “your money – your benefits”, I spent a lot of 2019 not really having much of a clue of what those benefits were and how to get as much out of them as I possibly could. This year, as that sweet Fees Free bubble has burst and I’m left with the responsibility of paying for all my university fees including the mystical SSL unicorn, I’m determined to get as much out of the SSL as I can. So I’m here to share some of the most important FREE and heavily subsidised things you can get through the SSL and why they’re worth checking out. It’s important that UC students (and especially first years!) take advantage of these things because you’ve paid the SSL fees so you’re entitled to wring as much out of it as you can! 

1.) Student Advisors. The number one thing I recommend to students everywhere no matter where you’re at in your studies, is if you’re struggling with anything to do with your degree, GO AND SEE A STUDENT ADVISOR. I didn’t start looking for help with my course and degree struggles until I was desperate and ready to quit uni and I really wish I’d known about going to a Student Advisor earlier. Student Advisor appointments are FREE and they can offer advice on any course and degree question or worry you have. If you’re not happy with the courses you’re taking and want advice on what courses you should take instead or if you’re fed up to the back teeth with your degree and you need to change something otherwise you’re ready to drop out, go see a Student Advisor. If you’ve got questions on how you can graduate more quickly and if pulling out of a course will affect your degree or student allowance, Student Advisors are there to help. If you’re unsure, unhappy or curious about ANYTHING course or degree related, they can help you figure out what’s not working and provide suggestions on what might fit or suit you better. The best thing I did at uni last year was to go and see a Student Advisor as I’m so much happier at uni now! 

2.) Academic Skills. It really surprised me last year how many people either didn’t know that Academic Skills existed or were too embarrassed to go and get their work looked at. But PLEASE, go to Academic Skills at least once this year! You’re allowed up to ten 40-minute appointments with a Learning Advisor per year or you can pop in for a 10-minute chat between 11am and 2pm, Monday to Friday. All appointments with a Learning Advisor are FREE as well! If anything, it’s a pair of fresh new eyeballs on your work and when you’ve reread your essay a thousand and one times, it can be really, really helpful to have someone else look over it and tell you (nicely) what is and isn’t working. Academic Skills also offer free workshops covering everything from essay writing to exam prep to everything in between which might be helpful to check out. 

3.) UCSA Dental and Health Centre. Now that going to a dentist can average at about the cost of getting a mortgage on an imaginary house I’ll never be able to afford in real life because the housing market is broken, I’m making it a priority to squeeze the hell out of the cheaper UCSA Dental services this year. Also take advantage of the Health Centre which offers cheap-to-free GP services as well as free counseling. 

4.) RecCentre. The RecCentre is free for all UC students because of the SSL! And look I feel you, gyms are not my favourite place either but a free gym membership is too good of an opportunity to waste. They have heaps of free group fitness classes on offer to tempt even the most reluctant of gym goers, free Learn to Gym sessions and lots of other free services on offer too. 

5.) UC Careers. You can book a FREE appointment with a Career Consultant and chat about anything from your career goals, how to prepare for a job interview, working overseas or anything else related to your future or current career that’s on your mind. They also offer CV and LinkedIn Drop-ins sessions which could be really helpful if you’re looking to brush up on those things. UC Careers also have heaps of online resources if you’re looking for some quick answers to any burning questions you have as well. 

By Ella Somers