Majority of students think HEIs should contact parents with mental health concerns

HEPI and Advance HE report reports a mere 14% ‘life satisfaction’ among survey of 14,000 UK students, despite improved value and teaching

Universities should be able to contact parents if they are deeply worried about a student’s mental state, according to 66% of students.

The Student Academic Experience Survey 2019 is carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Advance HE. Described by the latter’s chief executive Alison Johns as an “MOT for the sector”, the report deals with student perceptions.

Its authors, Jonathan Neves and Nick Hillman, write in their executive summary that while perceptions of value for money have improved “significantly”, and that teaching quality and assessment have “both improved strongly”. Students also felt more challenged.

It is perhaps not surprising that levels of anxiety have continued to rise

The authors say: “Challenge is often seen as a good thing; indeed the right level of challenge and effort lies behind delivering an experience beyond expectations. Against this, however, there is evidence of students becoming more self-critical and, in effect, blaming a disappointing experience on their own amount of effort. In this context of self-reflection, and with assignment levels increasing, it is perhaps not surprising that levels of anxiety have continued to rise.

“Indeed, a key and ongoing challenge highlighted from this year’s survey is that levels of wellbeing continue to be well below those of the general population of young people, and given that several aspects of the student experience are becoming more positive, it is notable that this is not following through into a more positive outlook on life.”

The report also highlights that the value perception was less positive among UK-domiciled Asian and Chinese students, who “continue to perceive less value, lower levels of learning and less effective teaching, as well as saying that they felt less prepared.”

The survey also quizzed students about whether there was an appetite for accelerated two-year degrees. “Respondents were not widely against the idea, neither was it greeted with particular enthusiasm,” said the authors.


Read the report