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Emerging HE policies highlight new political landscape

Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.

Rethinking universities from the outside in

Mike Boxall, an independent researcher and consultant on higher education policies and strategies, and a senior adviser to PA Consulting, considers the emerging post-COVID world and its implications for the future of universities. His blog is based on a paper published recently by PA Consulting, and co-authored with its HE lead, Ian Matthias.

Is the government missing the real 'levelling up' value of HE?

The Westminster government should wake up to the full potential of higher education to help it meet its ‘levelling up’ goals, argues Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University.

A quarter of stressed students consider dropping out of university, study finds

Over a quarter of students are so stressed during exam periods that they seriously consider dropping out of university, a new study has found.

Research commissioned by UniHealth, a health and wellbeing messaging platform for students, reveals that sitting exams and running out of money tops the list of life events university students have found most stressful.

The survey also showed that almost of quarter (23 per cent) of students suffer from panic attacks during exam time and 27 per cent seriously consider dropping out of university all together. Despite this, only 7 per cent seek help from a counsellor.

Three quarters of students admit they don't ask for help because they're embarrassed, they don't know where to find it or they think it's a waste of time. Nearly a third (28 per cent) would prefer to receive advice from a private message sent directly to their smartphone.

The survey showed that students are the ones putting pressure on themselves during exam time (64 per cent), rather than academic tutors (12 per cent) or parents (12 per cent). This is leading to an increase in negative behaviour such as eating badly, which almost half (49 per cent) of students admitted they do more of during exam time, pulling all-nighters (35 per cent) and drinking alcohol (16 per cent).

Daphne Metland, Director at UniHealth said: "Students are clearly putting themselves under a huge amount of pressure when it comes to exams leading to poor health and bad decisions. The majority of students starting university now are digital natives, communicating mostly via their smartphone. A digital solution which delivers behavioural change messaging, provides an alternative way in which students can identify wellbeing issues they have and opens up a confidential platform for self-help. Meaning students can get the help they require, when and where they need it."

The survey found over three quarters (76 per cent) of students believe more wellbeing support from their university, support to help fit into 'university life' and ways to talk about their unhappiness would stop them from dropping out of studies.

Research from GlobalWebIndex has shown that around 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is devoted to social networking and messaging with digital consumers aged 16-24 engaging for an average of 2 hours 40 minutes per day.

Zoë Cantley, student at City London commented: "As with most students, I have experienced high levels of stress during exam time and haven't always known where to turn. I think students need better help, delivered in a way that works for them, to keep them healthy during their time at university, especially around exam time. Having messages delivered to us on our phones would provide us with consistent, ongoing support in a more convenient and comfortable way."

Other stats from the survey:

Which of the following events have you found most stressful?

·         Running out of money/being broke: 31 per cent
·         Sitting a university exam: 27 per cent
·         Feeling lonely: 16 per cent
·         Breaking up with someone/getting dumped: 9 per cent
·         Moving away from home: 7 per cent
·         Parents divorcing: 5 per cent
·         Being bullied: 3 per cent

 

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