Group Of Friends Hanging Out

A sense of belonging in an online environment

This content has been provided by Fiona Murray, Residential Manager of Marketing and Student Retention

Fiona lives and works in the UNE Colleges, so she sees and speaks with students on a daily basis, providing guidance, support and coordinating a stack of fun things! We asked Fi to give us a run down on what’s changed over the past few weeks, and how college residents are staying touch with eachother, and connected to the University at the moment.

The big question is… How do UNE Colleges create a sense of belonging in an online environment?

This is a tricky question for us, as our students have all met initially through living in a Residential College. A unique experience that has each student feeling as if they belong to one large family group. Much like you did with your schoolhouse colours or previous sporting teams.

Forming college friendships can be daunting and scary at first, however during your first few days at the beginning of the University year, there are Student Leadership teams here to support and guide you. They were in the same position as you were two or more years ago however now they have been chosen (after a tough application and interview process) and trained to support you, and provide you with the best first-year experience that we hope you can have.

Why do people say that your college friends are your friends for life?

When you live in a UNE Residential College, you end up living with these people 24/7. You play sport with them, socialise with them, eat and study with them. Sounds like a family, right? Well just like a family – these people will see you at your best and your lowest moments. They’ll be there when you’re tired and snappy, throughout those big wins, and more of those hangry stages than you’d care to admit.

There are very few people who get to experience you in all these moments, and that’s how they end up as friends for life. During school, you often end up with friends as they are in the same year group or homeroom. Both at university and at college, you get to be exactly WHO you want to be and choose who your friends are!

So how do we maintain this sense of belonging while we are now all physically dispersed over numerous postcodes? The word collegiate means belonging. And although we are currently spread apart, most of our students still feel like they are part of their club…family…college – catch ups now happen with friends via Netflix Party, regular snapchats, game room chats, joining online communities, messenger or Facetime. We all make time to check in with those who have become our study buddies, and our friends for life.

Sure, it isn’t always easy. Some people aren’t great with technology and most of us would prefer to catch up in the courtyard, face-to-face, but we all know it’s temporary. So, in the meantime, we do what we need to do to remain contented and in touch with those who we met at College until we can all be together again.


If you’re feeling isolated – please know, you’re never alone at UNE.

You can connect with all of your college groups online
OR join other students online at Bunker Down!