When coronavirus first began to spread in the UK back in March 2020, Student Minds made the decision to pause and listen. We wanted to truly understand what students were experiencing, how the pandemic was affecting them and what we could do to help. We gathered insights from thousands of sources and conducted our own primary research to build as accurate a picture as possible. Almost 18 months later, following continued listening, the launch of Student Space and a shift to online delivery of our peer support and training, in August 2021, we collated and published our findings, reflections and recommendations in ‘University Mental Health: Life in a Pandemic’. The report explores the wide-reaching impacts of Covid-19 on higher education communities, focusing on four themes from Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter: Live, Learn, Work and Support. By exploring the disruption to each of these themes and taking a holistic approach to student mental health, we were able to develop policy recommendations for universities, students’ unions, and the Government, which we believe will support students as we move beyond the initial impacts of the pandemic.
Higher education, online learning and remote student services have become synonymous since the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020. Whilst the initial move to digital was orchestrated as a stop-gap measure to deliver learning and provide support, there is now an acknowledgment across the sector that online learning and remote student services will continue to have a place in higher education. Given recent announcements that some UK institutions will carry on with a blend of in-person and online tuition and support services until the autumn term, the need to support students to develop and maintain healthy digital habits is as pressing now as it was at the beginning of the pandemic.