All student email, Tuesday 5 May 2020

Dear student,

Hopefully you are settling into summer term and starting to get to grips with the resources and support available at a distance.

In today’s update, we have information on how best to submit an application to the Student Support Fund as well as news that Birmingham Health Partners have set up a resource centre to support our mental health and wellbeing during restricted campus operations.

One good way to support your wellbeing is to find ways to relax your mind and take a break from studying. Colouring-in is a really great way to generate mindfulness and quietness and we have produced some of our favourite campus scenes as colouring-in sheets for you to download.

Today’s updates includes:
• Applications to the Student Support Fund
• Birmingham Health Partners - Resources to take care of your mental health and wellbeing
• University professor part of team leading national COVID-19 testing effort at UK’s first ‘Lighthouse Lab’
• Weekly COVID-19 policy briefing
• Top tip – Colour in campus

Applications to the Student Support Fund

The Funding, Graduation and Awards team continue to be here for you during this challenging time, working remotely to assess applications to the Student Support Fund (SSF) and provide funding advice as quickly as we can. 

The SSF helps students who are struggling with their living costs, offering non-repayable support of up to £2,500 to students who are in financial hardship. If you are considering making an application to the SSF, there are a few things that you should consider before you start:
1. Applications need to be for support with living costs for the 2019/20 academic year. Applications for the next academic year (2020/21) are due to open on Monday 21 September 2020.
2. The SSF cannot help with tuition fees. If you want to discuss your instalment plan, please contact
3. The SSF is there to support students who are experiencing genuine financial hardship. We appreciate that many people’s finances will have changed as a result of COVID-19 but if students still have sufficient funding in place to meet living costs then they will not be eligible for an award.

Here are our 5 ‘top tips’ for ensuring that we are able to process applications to the SSF as quickly as possible:
1. Complete all of the relevant sections of the application form, providing as much detail as you can.
2. Include all of the supporting evidence that we ask for when you submit your application (there's a checklist included as part of the form). We often have to go back to ask for bank statements, especially statements for second accounts and savings accounts. It really helps to speed things up if we are sent statements from all of the accounts that you hold straight away, even if there is nothing in them.
3. Try to make sure that the evidence is easy to read (so downloading a PDF is better than sending in a screenshot).
4. Annotate bank statements so that we know what you have coming in and going out. For example, if you make a regular transfer to savings explain this, or if you received a one-off payment from a family member for a special occasion let us know that this was the case (so we know that this is not part of your regular income).
5. Please try to hold off on emailing us to ask for updates on your application - we are working through them as quickly as we can and any time spent answering these enquiries is time taken away from assessments.

Birmingham Health Partners - Resources to take care of your mental health and wellbeing

Birmingham Health Partners, the strategic alliance between the University of Birmingham and two NHS Foundation Trusts – Birmingham Women’s & Children’s, and University Hospitals Birmingham, has collated a number of resources, tips and guidance to support you to take steps to protect your mental health and wellbeing.

The new resource centre contains advice and tips and aims to help everyone adapt to the ‘new normal’ – staying physically healthy, mentally well, and equipped to help other people of all ages through these challenging times.

Access the resource centre 

University professor part of team leading national COVID-19 testing effort at UK’s first ‘Lighthouse Lab’

Professor Alan McNally, Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection - one of the UK’s highest performing infection and microbiology institutes - has been seconded to the Milton Keynes lab as Infectious Disease lead.

The Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab was the first of three government ‘mega-labs’ to be set-up across the UK, vastly increasing testing capacity and allowing tens of thousands more patient samples to be processed each day. The lab brings together automated lab testing technology from the National Biosample Centre, clinical trial expertise from the University of Oxford’s Clinical Trial Service Unit (CTSU) and lab experience of some seventy volunteers from the worlds of academia and science.

Alongside Professor McNally, who is also a shift manager for one of the facility’s four shift teams, a number of University of Birmingham volunteers are also working at the lab. These include Joana Viana, a fellow at the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, Daniel Patten, a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (PDRA) in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, James Haycocks, a PDRA, Samantha McKeand, a PhD student in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection and Dhananjy Evans, a PhD student at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences.

Find out more 

Weekly COVID-19 policy briefing

The University’s weekly COVID-19 briefing for senior policy makers and health officials provides an overview of the latest research, innovation and community support initiatives from across the institution. It also features the latest comment pieces published by our academics.

The latest briefing is now available and features research on diabetes, and comment on themes such as regional economies, and poor air quality.

Read the COVID-19 policy briefings 

Top tip – Colour in campus

If, like us, you are missing our beautiful campus in the springtime, the University has produced some colouring-in sheets of some well-known spots to help bring campus to you.  Colouring-in can help to improve mood, reduce stress and stimulate creativity so if you haven't tried this for a while why not give it a go!

These sheets are free to use and designs include the Green Heart and Old Joe. Please share your work with us on social media using the hashtag #unibirmingham. So grab your coloured pencils and stay within the lines!
Download your colouring-in sheets.

Best wishes
Student Communications Team


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