The new project will be a collaboration between the Open University, the University of Bradford, the University of Warwick, Student Minds, Jisc, and the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN).
To be eligible for a share of the funding, projects must develop targeted interventions, supporting student groups that may be at an increased risk of poor mental health, or learners who may face barriers to accessing support – for example international students, part-time students, or those with caring responsibilities.
Starting this summer, the OU’s ‘Positive Digital Practices project’ is focused on the mental wellbeing of part-time, commuter and distance learning students.
Kellie Mote, Jisc subject specialist on assistive tech/accessibility said:
“Jisc will be providing a steer on all things digital for this important new project, something we’re excited to do. We look forward to collaborating with those involved, and to making a real impact by weaving wellbeing into university life.”
“As well as supporting this project, we’ve created a code of practice for wellbeing and mental health analytics, exploring ways in which universities can use data to inform decisions on how they support their learners. We have also co-created a report with Emerge Education to share how universities can embrace technology to improve wellbeing offers.”
“It is recognised in the sector that part-time, distance and commuter students are harder to hear, and that different levels of engagement with campus can impact sense of belonging, wellbeing and academic outcomes. We’re delighted that the OfS are funding this exciting, two-year collaborative project, that will scale up positive digital practices and support the wellbeing of harder to reach students, who deserve excellent wellbeing support.”
“Having a mental health condition should not be a barrier to success in higher education, but for many students this is still the case. Data shows that students reporting a mental health condition are more likely to drop out, less likely to graduate with a first or 2:1, and less likely to progress into skilled work or further study – compared to students without a declared condition.
“We also know that students come to university or college from a range of backgrounds and that their individual journey, and the kind of support they require, is likely to be influenced by their specific circumstances. That’s why this funding of targeted interventions for student mental health is so important.”
Working with the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, the OfS able to fund projects across a range universities and colleges, targeting a number of priority groups.
“By paying attention to the diverse needs of students, universities and colleges can fine-tune the support they offer and ensure that all students, regardless of where they are from, have the best chance possible to succeed.”