Students want bail outs for universities in financial turmoil

Leslie Hanson
March 9, 2019

In December, the Education Secretary wrote to the chair of an expert panel convened by Universities UK (UUK) to urge that it did all in its power to help higher education institutions do more to reach out to students' emergency contacts when it is clear this is in the best interests of a student's health.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly hard-hit, with data across all universities showing they are around 50 per cent more likely to drop out than their peers from wealthier homes.

7,345 students declared they were coming to university with mental health illnesses in 2014- 15, up to 12,773 in 2017-18.

Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi, pro vice-chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: 'Our student community is one of the most socio-economically challenged in the country.

Students also reported high levels of anxiety, with 42.8% often or always anxious. Universities UK continues to play a leading role in setting out an ambitious vision for the sector and in convening a whole-system response to achieve change.

Hinds told universities with the highest dropout rates that their figures create the impression that providers are only interested in "bums on seats", rather than offering all-round support for students throughout their studies to complete their degree.

Hinds called on universities to tackle the high rates of students dropping out, after new figures were published on Thursday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

"No student starts university thinking they are going to drop out and, whilst in individual circumstances that may be the right thing, it is important that all students feel supported to do their best - both academically and in a pastoral sense".

Rachel Hewitt, HEPI's director of policy and advocacy, said: "This research shows a worrying mismatch between students' views of what should happen to a university in financial difficulty and the proposed action by the Office for Students".

"Despite the expansion of higher education in England, our continuation rates remain high relative to other countries".

The news comes after a report by Palatinate in 2017 which found that the University had reduced its number of full-time equivalent counsellors from 6.2 to 5.4, leaving it short of the recommended counsellor-student ratio.

The new taskforce will look at ways of helping students manage challenges in four key areas, which includes aspects of student life including managing finances, getting used to independent study, and finding your feet among a large new group of peers.

A London Met spokesman said: "London Met is committed to giving our students the best possible chance of transforming their lives through education".

Rosie Tressler, chief executive of Student Minds, said: "We often hear from students and in our research that times of transition can significantly impact student wellbeing throughout their university experience".

"We are therefore delighted to join the Belfast Trust and Ulster University at the forefront of addressing student mental health provision by investing in an integrated service that will address those specific challenges and deliver timely and seamless support".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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