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Moving the HE landscape’s quality contours … again

The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.

Government plans mark a seismic shift in higher education policy

Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.

UK universities affirm 'deep commitment' to high quality TNE

Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.

Cassandra calling out higher education

After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.

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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