Succeeding as a student isn’t just about your studies! From accommodation and visas to health and accessibility, Sciences Po staff support students across a whole range of issues. We work hard to free our students of all unnecessary difficulties so that they can complete their studies without hassle and make the most of this unique period in their lives. Our personalised student services are available to students at every stage of their degrees and can be adapted to the full range of their circumstances and needs. Hear more about them from Sciences Po’s Director of Students and Teachers’ Support and Services, Francesca Cabiddu.
Francesca Cabiddu, Director of Students and Teachers’ Support and Services
What support do Sciences Po’s student services provide to students?
Francesca Cabiddu: As well as exceptional academic training and a stimulating environment in which to study, our campuses also offer students a wide range of resources and services. The aim of all of these is to guarantee the quality of life at Sciences Po and to allow students to thrive right the way through their studies. Help finding or securing accommodation, information on visa or residence permit applications, financial support, health and well-being, accessibility improvements for disabled students: whatever the needs of our students, staff guarantee assistance that is attentive to personal circumstances and adapted to the requirements of each.
For example, when it comes to accommodation support, we make hundreds of individual or shared housing offers available to students each year. Our partnerships with public and private bodies allow us to obtain preferential rates on rent and priority access to local leases on every campus.
The activities of our student services are founded on the values of approachability, respect and openness, while also empowering student responsibility and autonomy. We collaborate closely with Sciences Po’s Graduate Schools and campuses, who provide the university’s most direct contact point for students.
How do you reach out to students to publicise the university’s services?
FC: From the moment of admission, our student services are the primary contact guiding new arrivals through their first steps at Sciences Po: we distribute the university’s Student Guide, communicate information about the start of year events and make sure all new students are aware of how to contact the necessary support staff.
In particular, in order to facilitate the integration of new students and to help them with the various administrative procedures that accompany starting university, Sciences Po organises a ‘Meet the Services’ event during the induction period. This event provides an introduction to a huge number of our student services and partners.
This collective mobilisation of our services is also reinforced by a peer-led induction programme. Student ambassadors appointed on all our campuses can supply answers to any questions and are our most effective way of liaising with students on the ground.
Above and beyond our start of year induction events, the support we provide all year round follows a convenient “one-stop-shop” approach. That means that students can find all the information, advice and support they need for extracurricular procedures in a single and centralised location, both on-site and online.
Do specialised initiatives exist for students most in need?
FC: In line with the pioneering commitment Sciences Po made to advancing equal opportunities more than 15 years ago, the university has a particularly active policy of inclusion for students with a disability and refugees. More than 300 disabled students are currently enrolled at Sciences Po, while our professional certificate and linguistic programme, Tremplin, are open to 80 young refugees every year.
We also have services specially designed for international students, who we assist, for example, in residence permit applications and renewals. With international students making up 49% of Sciences Po’s student body, this particular service involves providing one-on-one assistance to a total of several hundred students each year.
In the light of the current health context, what medically related measures have you introduced to support students?
FC: Like other departments at Sciences Po, the Student Induction and Support Department has been fully mobilised since the start of the crisis to maintain continuity across its services. It has been especially vital during this time that we remain available for questions of any kind and provide completely personalised support, particularly for those finding themselves isolated as a result of the crisis.
In particular, this has meant maintaining and expanding our full range of medical support, with medical staff paying close attention to the evolution of the pandemic and acting on behalf of students requiring psychological support during the lockdown.
We also took the decision to continue our health and well-being workshops, which have taken place via videoconference on Zoom. A series of activity videos to help students stay energised during lockdown was published on our webpage dedicated to student life during confinement.
What new support measures do you plan to roll out for the start of the next academic year?
FC: The staff of our one-stop student desk will be continuing their support in all areas, both on-site and online depending on current health conditions. This will include medical assistance, financial aid, specialised support for the needs of disabled students, administrative assistance for those needing to renew or extend a residence permit and so on.
All welfare or administrative support will be available remotely via Zoom or Google Meet, with an appointment system, as has been the case throughout the Spring Semester 2020. One-on-one meetings on campus for more informal discussions will be possible, exclusively upon appointment for the moment and subject to adaptation in accordance with current government guidelines.