Following the State of the Nation Report into the Student Mental Health Crisis, we focused our last blog on the data gaps and sector-wide reporting issues highlighted by the study. So today, we look at some of the data that HEIs could be capturing in order to effectively analyse and improve student mental health and wellbeing - including operational, student perspective, and benchmarking datasets.
The obvious place to start is with the support and wellbeing services themselves, to determine operational baselines. Tribal has identified that universities that are currently, or have recently implemented their dedicated Student Support & Wellbeing solution are keen to understand the health of their services by monitoring key metrics for:
- Enquiries and case volumes, including:
- No of active cases
- Enquiries / Cases by priority
- Enquiries / Cases by subject
- Enquiries / Cases by agent
- Enquiries / Case origin (web, email, live chat)
- Enquiries / Resolution trend.
- Appointments and attendance
- Attendance status
- Attendance by appointment type
- Bookings by agent
- Drop-in queues
- Funding requests and approvals volumes
- Self-help (Knowledge Base) resource views and downloads
Whilst it’s possible to monitor these metrics without a dedicated Student Support & Wellbeing solution in place, configuring automated Tribal dashboards to customer-defined enquiry types, SLAs, and key KPIs means that at a glance, stakeholders can see how they are performing against their service targets.
Beyond Student Support & Wellbeing solution data
As most universities are on a digital transformation journey, it’s important to consider all the platforms students are encouraged to interact with. For example, if your university currently uses an app or platform to communicate in real-time with students, then it’s really important to understand student uptake, and engagement levels. Here are the types of datasets that our customers are finding useful:
- Mobile sessions - to monitor the number of times the mobile app has been launched from a phone and the duration of sessions.
- Social interactions - to monitor the number of messages, posts, comments, and connections to understand whether students are interacting and creating networks.
- Mobile retention rate after 14 days - to monitor the number of students who are still interacting with the app after downloading it, which should typically be between 85-95% if students find it useful/are engaged.
- Notification views - to monitor engagement with personalised communications to ascertain their effectiveness regarding relevance/messaging/timeliness.
- Web link clicks - to monitor the usefulness of signposts to important information platforms, including websites, apps, portals and VLEs.
- Portal or wellbeing service access - to monitor whether students are accessing too few or too many times and determine patterns in behaviour that might indicate what triggers this.
- Profile clicks to connection conversion - to monitor whether students are looking to and then actively making friends and connections.
- Direct messages sent - to monitor engagement levels in private social networks.
Whilst each Higher Education Institution will have their own targets for each of these metrics, monitoring trends over time should help stakeholders to define action plans to improve engagement. It’s also vitally important that the students themselves are asked for their opinions on the platforms available to them and how they support their wellbeing, to inform and shape the university’s technology roadmap.
For example, on behalf of customers, Tribal recently surveyed 832 students across the base who are using our Engage app to understand:
- Whether they downloaded their university’s Engage app prior to the start of their course, and whether they found it helpful - an average of 8.2/10 suggests that the app is a useful onboarding experience.
- Whether the app has positively improved users’ work - averaging 7.7 out of 10, strongly suggesting that it’s a useful tool to aid study and support academic outcomes.
- How likely users are to recommend the app to other students – 94% of students said they would be likely to recommend to their peers.
- Whether users find it easy to figure out how to use the app – 99% said yes, showing that they can access services easily, 24/7, from their mobile.
As per the recommendations throughout the State of the Nation Report, listening to student voices is vitally important, and apps like Engage can make it really easy to survey student populations’ opinions in just a few clicks. This is particularly useful when wanting to understand student perspectives on world or regional factors that might be impacting their health and wellbeing, such as:
- Brexit - surveys helped university leaders understand how students felt/feel about the impact on next steps/career readiness etc
- Covid-19 - the State of the Nation report covers this topic extensively, thanks to all the surveys of student populations
- War in Ukraine – this topic is about to go into the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey to see how/if it is affecting students’ sense of wellbeing, stress and anxiety.
The ISB already provides universities with lots of other valuable wellbeing indicators, asking students questions on their:
- Overall happiness
- Feelings of particular stress & anxiety
- Awareness of how to access counselling services
- Satisfaction with counselling services
And of course, the following engagement statements measured by the ISB are also indicative of wellbeing as they relate directly to student experience:
- I feel part of a student community committed to learning
- I am engaged with my studies
As there is a great deal of evidence to show that the arrival and welcome aspects of the student journey contribute significantly to student experience - especially in the case of international students - the ISB’s ‘warmth of reception’ metrics can also prove useful for this student population to determine:
- How welcome an international student feels in the UK
- Whether there is a friendly attitude towards international students at their institution (staff and students)
- Whether there is a friendly attitude towards international students at the city / location where the institution is based (local population)
All these types of data and analyses can be used to shape the university’s approach to supporting student mental health and wellbeing. From refining communications, to introducing proven ways to engage students, and opening up access to dedicated services - leading universities are using these insights to improve the overall student experience.
Benchmarking data and insights
Benchmarking data can also provide a wealth of useful insight by comparing the institution’s spend per FTE on counselling and wellbeing service against other HEIs in the sector, on a like-for-like basis. It can help answer questions such as:
- How the university’s expenditure profile and resource allocation differs to sector benchmarks and specific benchmark groups, such as competitor institutions
- How the university’s student experience compares to other universities
- How to improve both of these comparative positions
- What students value, what features and services contribute most significantly to satisfaction, and how to begin to measure ROI on these things
- How much a satisfied student should cost the university
Of course, operational KPIs, student perspective metrics and benchmarking data are only as valuable as the plans they drive. Using the data to shape strategy and prioritise action based on the best practices outlined in the State of the Nation report will help to bring about an uplift in student wellbeing.
Tune into our next blog on how to use the recommendations from the report to improve operational KPIs around caseload. Click to download the full "State of the nation report: Examining the extent of the student mental health crisis."
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