Mental Health: New Research Shows No Signs of Improvements for HE Students

Youth Thinking | 04 Aug 2022

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Anxiety levels in HE students remain high according to the latest YouthSight research conducted for the Student Academic Experience Survey

The annual survey is designed and developed by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Advance HE to show the expectations, perceptions and experiences of full-time undergraduate students in higher education. And this year, the survey revealed no improvement to students' mental health - here's why universities need to do more... 


The last few years have been tough for young people - the Pandemic in particular posed an extremely challenging time for students and as a result, satisfaction took a huge hit. Universities struggled to deliver on the communication needs of students and alleviate their anxiety - and as a result many students began reconsidering their university choices (HE Snippet, 2020). 

But, it wasn't just higher education that was impacted. Our research for HEPI revealed that 28% of young people were anxious about entering the world of work following the pandemic.

Two years on from the outbreak and students are still struggling with feelings of loneliness and anxiousness; almost one in four students say they feel lonely 'most' or 'all' of the time. 

According to the survey trans students have higher levels of anxiety and are more likely to consider a change of course or institution given the choice. 

Furthermore, The Applicant Index survey revealed that one in five students reported a mental health condition and almost half (49%) of students said they had experienced anxiety within the past two years.

Universities must do more...

If we learned anything from our research throughout the global crisis, it's that students want better communication. Honest, open and authentic dialogues with students are the key step towards offering better support and alleviating stress. 

Recent research for our client at Sodexo also offers insights into how institutions can design better physical spaces that will go some way to addressing students' feelings of loneliness.

The Social and Informal Learning Spaces report (July, 2022) revealed that 42% of students feel the most important thing to them was having a safe, secure environment to learn.

The report also drew upon the findings of the 2021 National Student Survey, which uncovered a marked decline in satisfaction around course facilities and feeling part of a community. 

To tackle these issues Sodexo recommends:

  • Bringing students into the design consultation process and creating more inclusive places to work and learn
  • Being adaptable particularly when dealing with macro-environmental factors that could impact student experience
  • Measuring success! 

Press Coverage

Read more about these surveys in the press:

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