Health & Wellbeing

During your time at University you may fall ill, these can fall under physical, mental and sexual illnesses. The Students' Union offers information and advice on steps you can take to overcome these illnesses.

Health & Wellbeing


During your time at University you may fall ill, these can fall under physical, mental and sexual illnesses. The Students' Union offers information and advice on steps you can take to overcome these illnesses.

Cultural Differences

During your time at university, you will encounter students (and lecturers) from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and countries. In this section, we highlight some of the differences you may notice on campus.

While coming to university in Britain can be a new and sometimes baffling experience for international students, British students may face a similar cultural surprise. In school, you may have encountered people from ethnic minorities and of different faiths, but maybe contact with international citizens was a rarer occurrence. This section of UniLife is here to help with your awareness of the multicultural nature of university life.

Foods and manners

If you share accommodation with international students, you may encounter different cuisines and habits. Asian or African cooking may smell different from the food you’re used to at home, for example.

Ideally, this should be great fun. You could exchange a few recipes and discover a new favourite ingredient or two. However, sometimes there are problems. If you are annoyed by your flatmates, you should politely raise the issue so they are aware of your discomfort – just as you should with British flatmates and any problems you might have with them. Otherwise, they might be entirely unaware of any problem. Maybe that cheese could be put in an air-tight container, and maybe those curries could be cooked with better ventilation. Of course, this works both ways, and if your cooking hogs the oven for a few hours every week, you may also be asked to adjust slightly, just as, for example, a vegetarian flatmate might ask you to be considerate in your preparation of meat.

Finally, there may be different table manners. In some cultures, using your left hand for eating (or handling money) is considered extremely rude, whereas in Britain, it’s not even noticed. Some cultures frown on the idea of talking at the meal table, while others see meals as social occasions. Some cultures use forks and knives, others chopsticks, others spoons, and some have a preference for finger foods. Do be prepared for the idea that people do things in different ways, and don’t automatically assume someone’s manners are poor because they are different from what you’re used to.

Religion and politics

People can be quite sensitive about their beliefs and convictions, regardless of nationality and heritage. With that in mind, it is no surprise that the diversely multicultural environment of a university campus can be home to a wide variety of faiths and viewpoints, some of which may be ideologically opposed to each other.

Expect to find people you disagree with at university – British people, international people, from all races and all faiths. Just as importantly, expect people who will agree with you, from all nations and faiths. Don’t assume that stereotypes are always true, and that people’s opinions are predetermined by their cultures, faiths or nationalities.

The best advice is to not get into arguments if and when you do disagree with someone. By all means, have polite and informed discussions with people you know and respect. Cultural exchange and diversity is all about understanding and communicating different points of view. But perhaps turning a social chat with someone you’ve only just met towards some of the most contentious issues in society is not the best way to go about this. Use your common sense – get to know a person first, discuss controversies later.


Studying in a foreign country is always a difficult decision. It can be very expensive, and the distance involved often means that contact with families and friends at home is very restricted during that time. Many international students aren’t able to return home over the holiday periods. It is not a decision taken lightly, and in most instances it shows a strong dedication to the ideal of widening one’s horizons. Most international students return home within one year or less of completing their courses, so they have only a very brief time to enjoy the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that the UK offers.

Having a large international student population means that the University is part of that atmosphere, and we take pride in that. As a centre for learning, the intercultural exchange that occurs on campus is a valuable part of the student experience both for internationals and for home students, and we’d like to encourage all students to make the most of that opportunity.

Drugs & Substance Misuse

During your time at University there will be lots of new experiences and lots of opportunity to try out new things – some good, some not so good. Alcohol, prescription medication, illegal drugs and ‘legal highs’ can all casue problems.

There’s plenty of help available.

First contact

The first place to go for help depends on where you live:

Rhondda Cynon Taff - The Drug and Alcohol Single Point of Access (DASPA) is a one call number which provides advice, information and an easier route into services for those affected by substance misuse. The freephone number 0300 333 000 is available throughout Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.

Cardiff - e-das is the Cardiff and Vale single point of contact for access to services, advice and information, including a broad range of online information and support. The phone number is 0300 300 7000.

Newport - GDAS is the single point of contact for the Newport area for drugs, alcohol and other substance misuse issues. The only number you need is 0333 999 3577.

Useful Links

Many organisations give information and support for drug and alcohol issues.

  • Barod – Substance misuse services across Wales, offering drop-in services, free advice, support services and a Live webchat service to those affected by substance use and for those who are concerned for others who may be affected by substance use.

  • SMART Recovery – A confidential mutual aid group that helps participants decide whether they have a problem, builds up their motivation to change and offers a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery. Barod facilitates SMART Recovery meetings within the Cwm Taf area. For more information please contact Barod Cwm Taf Service on 0300 333 0000.

  • dan247 – Wales drug and alcohol helpline

  • – Advice and information on drug addiction.

  • Drink Aware – For most adults, it’s fine to enjoy a drink. At the same time, we all need to look after our health and well-being. Drink Aware provides information about how to do both.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous – Alcoholics Anonymous provides a range of information, advice and face to face sessions to help people cope with drink related problems.

  • Down your drink – Most of us drink. Some of us drink more regularly than others. But how often is too often? And how much is too much?

  • Frank – provide information and advice for young people about drugs. Includes an A-Z of drugs, a confidential helpline, Confidential live webchat and advice on substance misuse.

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families – Provide a safe space offering Information and support for those who grew up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional home.

  • Club Drug Clinic– A service for people who have begun to experience problems with their use of recreational drugs. Club Drug Clinic offer support and advice to those seeking help and services for those supporting someone who is experiencing problems with substance use.

  • Gamcare – GamCare provides support, information and advice to anyone suffering through a gambling problem.

University of South Wales support

Students who need support due to past or present addictions can access confidential support services on campus, or use the self-help resources recommended by these services:

  • The Wellbeing Service
  • Mental Wellbeing Service
  • Health Service

Relevant university policies

Students who consume, possess or trade in restricted or illegal substances risk being subject to disciplinary procedures. The University will cooperate with the police in any enquiries. Any illegal activity can have serious consequences for students.

  • Regulations governing student conduct
  • Policy and Procedure Governing Fitness to Practise – policy that includes student conduct issues (among other things) and applies to students studying on nursing, midwifery, chiropractic or social work courses, and other courses leading to certain professional qualifications, for example in other professions allied to medicine.
  • Declaration of Criminal Convictions
  • Student halls policies
Students who are experiencing difficulties or whose behaviour is a cause for serious concern may also require support and an intervention from the University.

Intervention Policy For Students Causing Significant Concern - Fitness To Study

Religion & Beliefs - Support for students

The University wishes to give every student the best possible chance to achieve their academic potential, and therefore will endeavour to be as flexible as is practically possible in accommodating students’ wishes with regard to observance of religious beliefs.

Students who believe that their own religion or belief system may have implications for taking part in normal student activities – such as lectures, examinations or practical classes – should raise potential issues with their course tutors as soon as possible, ideally at their course induction sessions.

Students may wish to be aware of the guidelines which staff follow in accommodating religion and belief at the University. The guidelines for students are contained in the second part of the document.

There is a Chaplaincy to the University which is open and inclusive. While rooted in the Christian tradition, the Chaplains respect everyone’s faith, and the thinking and exploration of those who are not committed to any faith. One of the Chaplaincy’s aims is to assist people of other faiths to access appropriate support in the practice of their faith; we also provide the Faith Wales database of local places of worship. The Chaplains will be happy to speak with any student who is concerned about how their personal practice of religion or belief might affect their student experience – you can use any of these means of contact.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex, oral sex or genital contact. Most people with STI’s don’t have any symptoms so you should regularly have an STI test because if they are left untreated they can cause health problems in the future.

If you think that you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, go immediately to your nearest A&E.

Facts about STI's

You cannot always notice symptoms if you have an STI. Most people with Chlamydia don’t know that they have it. Protect yourself by using condoms or dental dams.

Not all contraception protects you from STIs. If you are using the contraceptive pill, implant, coil, injection, patch or natural family planning you are not protected from STIs. Make sure that you use a condom.

You can get a STIs from oral sex. Find out more here. Protect yourself by using condoms or dental dams.

If you have an STI, don’t panic! Most STIs are easily treatable through antibiotics or creams.

If STIs are left untreated they can cause problems in the future. For example, if gonorrhoea or chlamydia is left untreated it can causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility.


Free condoms

You can pick up free condoms from your health center (with a condom card/c-card). You can discuss and find out about different contraception methods at the health center, your local GUM clinic or at the doctors.

How do I access emergency contraception?"

If your condom broke during sex, or you have not correctly taken the contraceptive pill, or the effectiveness of your contraceptive at preventing pregnancy has been affected in any other way, you may need emergency contraception. To find out how the effectiveness of your contraception can be reduced, you should speak to your doctor and read the packet of your contraception.

Facts about contraception

There are different types of contraception. Speak to your doctor to decide which method of contraception is best for you.

You can buy condoms. If you are allergic to latex condoms, latex free condoms are readily available.latex free

Vomiting and can make your contraceptive pill less effective at preventing pregnancy. You may need to use extra contraception, such as a condom, while you're ill and during your recovery. Read the packet of the contraception pill and further advice can be found here. diarrhoea

Missing pills or starting a new pack late can make your pill less effective at preventing pregnancy. Read the packet of your contraceptive pill to find out whether you should seek emergency contraception.

The side effects of hormonal contraception are usually mild and temporary. As with all medications, there may be some side effects when taking hormonal contraceptives, but it will usually be mild or temporary. The side effects will differ depending on the person using them, so speak to your doctor is if you are experiencing unwanted side effects.

Need more information?

If you're still stuck then call/text 02920465250 to speak in confidence with the YMCA Sexual Health Outreach Team (SHOT). They give free advice to under 25s and they'll know what to do. Alternatively see the ‘useful links’ below.

Useful Links


Terrence Higgins Trust (HIV / AIDS)

The Family Planning Association

Marie Stopes

NHS Choices


Public Health Wales

Occupational Health Centre

Student Safety & Crime Prevention

What the university / union does to protect you

The University has security cover for our campuses and our halls of residence. Security measures vary between locations and times of day, and may include campus lighting, security staff, CCTV coverage, an on-campus emergency phone number, trained first responders and more.

Personal safety alarms are available free of charge from the Students’ Union

The University and Students' Union works with local police forces and promotes security related messages and communications to raise student awareness of various issues at relevant times in the academic year.

Mobile apps for safety

First Aid


If you know the emergency phone number, and you have a good idea where you are when an emergency occurs, you should call it directly. If, however, you are travelling through foreign countries, or if you are in an unfamiliar area / place when an emergency occurs, it can be useful to have an app on your smartphone to help locate you for emergency services.

Echo112 is an app that geolocates you, finds the emergency number for the country you are in, and uses the phone’s GPS to locate you on a map which emergency operators can access online. The app makers claim that it works worldwide, but it is based primarily in Switzerland. It relies on the phone’s GPS and requires the phone operators to access a specified website.