Student mental health supported by new technology

Issue date: 13 September 2018


Students in a lecture

New analytics software that enables university staff to support students' progress, mental health and wellbeing is to be tested at UWE Bristol.

Data analytics specialist Solutionpath has signed a four-year agreement with the University to lead an initiative which will provide greater insight into how students engage with life on campus. It will use Solutionpath's StREAM software to provide data on activities including use of online learning tools, reading lists and coursework submission.

It will be the first time a UK university has used this technology to support its approach to mental health and wellbeing.

The data collected through this platform already exists in different formats across the University. Using it in this way could provide early indications that a student is at risk of withdrawing from their course, so that support can be offered at the right time.

“Mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing the higher education sector, with universities and government identifying it as an issue that must be addressed,” said UWE Vice Chancellor Professor Steve West, who chairs Universities UK's Mental Health in Higher Education Advisory Group.

“Using data more effectively to identify when support is needed is an important part of our response to this issue. It will not provide the full solution on its own, of course, and this is not about monitoring everything that students do. It's about understanding how we can support students, when they need it. This is an important step along the road to meeting that challenge.”

The measure is one of the initiatives supported earlier this year in UWE Bristol's Mental Wealth First strategy, which aims to put student and staff wellbeing at the heart of its activities.

Solutionpath director David Cole said: “Clearly, the mental health of our young people is of huge concern to all of us. This partnership with UWE Bristol will allow us to explore the potential for our software to make a positive difference in this crucial area.

“We know it works well in helping universities support students who are becoming less engaged with their programme and are in danger of dropping out. We are very much hoping that it will prove to be equally effective in enabling rapid intervention when a student is struggling with their mental health.”

UWE Bristol will run a year-long pilot study of the software from this month, before rolling it out throughout the entire university.

UWE Bristol is one of three universities piloting Universities UK's Step Change Framework, which sets out a new whole university approach for the higher education sector to support their students.

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