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Education news

Student watchdog concerned about mental health help

The head of the Office for Students (OfS), Nicola Dandridge, has outlined her concerns that more than half of UK university and college students feel their mental wellbeing has not been supported enough this year.

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This year's annual National Student Survey, run by the OfS, found only 42% felt enough was done to help them. In response, England's Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said universities had access to up to £256m to help.

The survey shows that three-quarters (75%) of students rated the overall experience of their courses positively, although that has gone down from 83% in 2020. 332,500 students from across the UK responded to the survey which asks participants about a range of factors related to their academic experience, including the teaching and organisation of their courses, assessment and feedback.

The survey was conducted between January and April 2021 - when teaching was virtual for many students - it found that students were less happy with most things this year than 12 months previously. Other findings included:

  • 74% said they could access course-specific resources (equipment, software, facilities), compared with 87% last year. 

  • 84% agreed staff were good at explaining things - compared with 89% in 2020 

  • 76% agreed their course challenged them to achieve their best work - compared with 80%, 12 months earlier

This year's survey included specific questions about students' experiences during the pandemic, covering a range of issues. 

Of the 184,964 students responding to this section, fewer than half (48%) said they were content with the delivery of learning and teaching of their courses. 78% said they were able to access the learning resources they needed - such as lecture notes, course materials and virtual learning tools.