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Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations for the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD), reviews a week of higher education news in which concerns emerged over universities’ financial stability due to Covid-19 and the impact of the crisis on students.
A growing number of higher education conferences and events are being postponed or moved online in response to the Coronavirus restrictions.
Amid predictions that higher education will be changed forever by the current pandemic, Professor James Miller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, suggests the innovative ways the sector is responding to the crisis will make it even more valued in the future.
The current crisis has underlined the critical role played by the UK’s experts and researchers and the institutions supporting them, as well as the need for collaboration between them, says Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business.
Universities must ensure they are working effectively with partners to support students' mental health and wellbeing, Office for Students Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge will tell MPs today [Wednesday 31 October 2018].
Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students, she will say that this is a priority for the OfS because it is a priority for students.
And she will unveil findings of a new analysis on student wellbeing an happiness, which shows some of the key factors affecting levels of happiness among students, including subject studied and employment prospects.
In her remarks to MPs, Nicola Dandridge will say: "All students deserve to get the support they need to cope with times of mental ill health and distress. But there are times when that support does not get to where it is needed, when it is needed.
"Every time I meet with groups of students and student unions, the challenge of mental health is raised, and the members of the OfS Student Panel have also raised it as a priority.
"I know many universities and colleges are already working hard to improve their support services for mental health and wellbeing, but all have a responsibility to provide the right support for mental health and wellbeing."Mental health and wellbeing are complex issues, but universities are full of people who excel at working with complexity.
"So I believe that – with the challenge and support provided by the OfS – higher education providers can and will address these issues, so as to enable their students to flourish and unlock their potential."
She will highlight how the OfS is working to improve support for students in a range of ways, including challenging registered providers to improve their support for their students' mental health; funding activities that directly support students, including a guide to help universities prevent student suicides, and a £6 million Challenge Competition for innovative projects to combat the rise in student mental health issues; delivering a £1.5 million collaboration with Research England that will support postgraduate research students; working in partnership with providers, charities and other organisations to encourage good practice through the University Mental Health Charter and the Universities UK Mental Health in HE Advisory Group; and improving the data and evidence around what the problems are, what causes them and what works best to address them, such as the new analysis published today that shows how different characteristics impact on graduates' anxiety, life satisfaction and happiness.
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