Getting Around University

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to University and heading on-campus for the first time. With over 50,000 students, academics and administrative staff, University campuses can be the size of a town and very intimidating. So it’s important to learn about the “must know” locations that will help you find your feet.

Public Transport and Parking

Learning as much as you can about a city’s public transport system can save you time. Many cities now use a tap-on-tap-off card system when commuting. For example, Brisbane uses go card and Melbourne uses myki. Find out from your University on how to receive a student concession.

Take note of the city’s parking set up to save you from getting a parking fine and also ensure you understand how each city’s toll roads are laid out.

Check at your University if they provide an on-campus transport system which will ensure students’ safety around campus both day and night.

Student Administration Services and Help Desk

For first year students, this is where important administration like, paperwork, student ID cards, changing of subjects, help with directions around campus and general enquiries, will occur. Getting a photo taken for your student ID can take a while so try and get in early before orientation week (O-Week).

You can access enrolment information online if you need to update your contact details or select subjects. Contact your University’s Student Enquiries centre or talk to your Indigenous Student Support Unit to find out how to do this.

Indigenous Student Support Unit

Most Universities will have a dedicated department for supporting Indigenous students. Known as either an Indigenous Student Support Unit or Indigenous Unit, each one will have a name. For example, the University of Newcastle’s is called Wollotuka.

It is important to introduce yourself to the staff at these units as soon as possible to get to know them and for them to get to know you. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff your questions, as they are there to assist you as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student.

These Indigenous units also serve as a great place to meet other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The Difference between Faculty and School

Each course or subject you’re enrolled in is taught by a particular faculty. Each faculty belongs in a school. For example, if you are studying a Bachelor of Commerce, one of your subjects could be Accounting Principles ACCT101. This is taught by the Accounting and Finance Faculty, which is part of the Business School.

Another example is the Business School may have a faculty of Business and Law.

Sounds confusing but if you have any questions regarding your course or subjects, speak to the staff inside the school and faculty. The staff will generally consist of academics i.e. professors, lecturers and tutors, as well as administration staff.

A lot of course material can now be found online. A common system used is called Blackboard. Find out from your University if they use it and how to access it.

Computer Labs and Printing

There will generally be on-campus computer labs for research and to help complete assignments. You may need to book them or it might be a case of lining up and first in, first served. These are important areas to locate on campus as soon as you can and importantly, to find out whether you’re given a budget for printing or have to pay for it out of your own pocket.


Some large Universities are likely to have more than one library so check with University staff on the location of them all.

Libraries have quiet areas but also might have meeting rooms for group assignments. Library staff will inform you if they need to be booked in advance.


Large Universities will have more than one location to eat at and you might be entitled to a discount at these on-campus cafeterias depending on your status i.e. full time student or student union member. Speak to your University to find out more.


Almost every University will have a bar. The University of Newcastle has two bars called the Godfrey Tanner Bar and the Bar On The Hill. These are well-known meeting places for students and live music venues.

Clubs, Societies and Associations

Get involved with the vast array of groups that are at your University, especially if they relate to your course. You’ll be able to find out this information during O-week. It is also important to understand what the Student Union does as you will hear about them during your time at University.

Our relationship manager, Damien Foley, became involved with the National Indigenous University Games when he attended the University of Newcastle. This was a great way for him to meet other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from around Australia.

Becoming involved in clubs, societies and associations is a great way to build your confidence, networks and your personal development by increasing your skills and experience.

If you’re studying commerce, accounting, business, economics or finance, join the Chartered Accountants OneNetwork and the CPA Australia network as well as the Indigenous Accountants Australia project. All of this will look great on your resume when looking for employment!

Shops and Stores

Large Universities will provide on-campus services such as a newsagency, a general store, hairdresser, banks, ATMs, post office, gym etc.

The first-stop-shop will be the Book Store. This is where you will purchase the textbooks needed for your course.

When you do, be sure to first check what edition of the textbook you need. You may require the latest edition compared to the second-hand copy or older version that you can also purchase from certain book stores on campus.

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