Advice Place Mission Statement
We believe that all students at the University of Edinburgh should have access to high quality and impartial advice and information, to both empower them and allow them enjoy their time as part of the student community.
The Advice Place is a professional, impartial and inclusive service for all students at the University of Edinburgh. Our service is free, independent and confidential. We work to ensure that all students can access effective advice, information and support from a respectful and welcoming team. In all cases we will do our utmost to help students to the fullest extent of our abilities, whilst empowering them with the knowledge to shape their own University experience.
Service Details - What we provide
The Advice Place provides information, advice, and - where appropriate - negotiation, advocacy, and referral in the following key areas:
Money and Funding – grants, fees, debt, discretionary funding, university bursaries and grants, banks and insurance, small loans, late awards, educational sponsorship
Academic – appeals, complaints, course changes and problems, academic misconduct e.g. plagiarism
Benefits – income support, job seekers allowance, housing benefits, council tax, disability, tax credits, employment and support allowance
University Policies and Regulations – complaints, discipline, understanding procedures
Accommodation – landlord and tenant disputes, service provision problems, accommodation choices, tenants’ rights, repairs, leases, deposits
Personal – health, harassment
Employment – Employment rights, tax, and National Insurance
Remote reporting and reporting crime directly to the police
Free Pregnancy tests
Free sanitary products
This list is intended to give an overview of our main areas of advice; if we are not able to offer advice in relation to a specific enquiry, we will always endeavour to suggest an alternative service.
It is our intention that every student receives an overview of their options and a named contact in the Advice Place to follow up with if necessary.
We also provide free phone and internet use for students where it is deemed appropriate by advisers.
The Advice Place serves the following groups:
- All Edinburgh University students
- Prospective University of Edinburgh students
- University staff, EUSA Staff
- The follwing services users can be supported at the discretion of the Service Manager, resources permitting.
- Students who have recently completed their studies
- Students who are no longer matriculated and are still engaged in a University process or wish to engage in one ( provided the process pertains to something related to their period of study at the University)
The Advice Place deals with enquiries via the following methods:
- Drop in to the office at Potterrow or King’s Buildings
- Appointments at other locations on request
- Email and mail correspondence
- Social networks
The Advice Place Service is delivered by:
Professional advisory staff, trained to provide generalist advice and individual specialist areas of expertise.
Student volunteers who have successfully completed an appropriate training programme.
The Advice Place is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 17:00pm in the Potterrow office (open till 6pm on Wednesday and Thursdays in semester time, open at 10.30 am on Wednesdays and Thursdays)
Opening hours 11am to 2pm Monday to Thursday at King’s Buildings ( term time only )
Telephone and email enquiries – the Potterrow office from 9.00am to 5pm Monday to Friday (10.30am- 6:00pm on Wednesdays and 6:00pm pm on a Thursday during semester time )
In addition to office hours, appointments can be made outside opening hours and at alternative location by prior arrangement.
Principles of the Service
The Advice Place staff and volunteers are committed to upholding the following principles:
Impartial: We offer the service to all students at the University of Edinburgh. In all cases we will seek to avoid situations where the same adviser is acting for opposing parties in a dispute, with appropriate referrals being attempted in such situations.
Independent: We act on behalf and in the interests of the service user, advising independently of the University of Edinburgh or any other organisation or authority.
Client centred: The service user’s experience is at the centre or all our interactions. Service users are acknowledged as soon as they enter the office and advice staff endeavour to make each service user feel valued.
Confidential: We will not divulge the name, address or personal details of the service user’s enquiry to any outside agency (including the University) without prior permission. Service users have the right to access records relating to their case provided that such access does not breach the confidentiality of other parties.
Self enabling: We seek to enable service users to act on their own behalf, giving them the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions. We do not assume the responsibility for making the service user’s decision.
Meeting Changing Needs: As the needs of the student population change, we continuously develop our resources, including staff and volunteer knowledge and skills, online and physical resources.
Awareness and Delivery: As the student population is constantly evolving, we will continuously promote the service and our feedback mechanisms through: poster and online campaigns, relationships with university staff, welcome talks for new students and outreach stalls, in order to maximise student awareness and access to our service.
Quality Service Provision: In order to provide a valuable service for all students, we seek to continuously improve and develop the service by being receptive and responsive to feedback.
The Advice Place team develop and maintain effective relationships with other internal departments and external departments/individuals in order to fulfil the above functions.
In particular we encourage effective communication and a mutual exchange of appropriate information.
Key working relationships include those with: the Student Administration, Student Counselling, Careers and Disability Service, the Institute for Academic Development, the Chaplaincy, Edinbugrh Global and Widening Participation.
In addition to these, staff maintain relationships with the University’s Colleges and Schools, as well as other external support agencies such as SAAS and SFE.
Measuring and Reporting Results
The Advice Place monitors and reports results on volume of queries, query types, client base, and service standards. Reports are made to the Chief Executive of the Association and the University’s Quality and Assurance Committee.
Volume and Query Types
Overall number of queries dealt with on a quarterly/annual basis
The number of queries by category
The number of queries by method of contact
The number of queries by site
Client base by fee status and level of study (undergraduate or postgraduate)
Percentage of clients seeing an adviser within an acceptable response time ( as defined by service users)
Percentage of clients rating staff as being approachable and welcoming
Percentage of clients who would recommend the service to others
Results are monitored and reported via the following methods:
Ongoing recording of client queries by site, fee status, type of contact and category of query;
A continuous feedback survey promoted on the website, email signatures and via social network sites (Results are reviewed monthly and responded to accordingly);
Surveys conducted on outreach stalls at outlying university sites;
NSS and ESES data
An in office feedback system (touch screen at the door)
Regular reporting of results to the VP for Welfare, the Director of Membership Support and Development , EUSA Chief Executive and the University Senate's Quality and Assurance Committee;
Production of an Advice Place Annual Report for the attention of University committees and personnel and Executive Office Bearers.
The Advice Place welcomes feedback from its service users and views their input as an opportunity for continuous improvement of the service offered.
Feedback concerning the service is welcomed via the following channels:
The Advice Place Continuous Feedback survey
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Edinbugrh Students' Association Vice President Welfare
Any student who wishes to put forward a complaint concerning the service they have received should put it in writing, for the attention of the Advice Place Manager,Ginette Lowdean, email@example.com
You can read about the EUSA complaints procedure here.
The rights of the Advice Place team
Advice Place staff and volunteers have a right to work in a safe environment. The Advice Place manager and the Senior Management team take this right very seriously. Where a service user is behaving in any way which makes any member of our team feel unsafe (either in person, digitally or by phone) the following steps will be taken-
- The Advice Place Manager will speak with the service user with regards to their behaviour to explain our concerns and our expectations for future service use.
- If this does not resolve the issue and behaviour which causes any team member to feel unsafe occurs again the service user will be given a written warning explaining that any further behaviour deemed inappropriate will result in withdrawal of service for a period to be determined by the Advice Place Manager and Senior Management team. If this occurs they will be notified in writing of the decision.
We understand that students making use of our service are often distressed and under extreme pressure and we will always do our upmost to support them in every way we are able to, this includes making them aware of how they can complain about anything they are dissatisfied with about the Advice Place.
Page last updated 6/2/17