Five recommendations to strengthen student well-being at UCPH
New recommendations, a general definition of student well-being and future projects to promote well-being. These are the results of the think tank that Prorector Bente Merete Stallknecht set up last year.
The warning lights started blinking in many places at UCPH when the results of the student well-being survey came in last autumn. More than half of the students in the survey said that they experienced stress symptoms in their daily lives. The figures were alarming, and gave Bente Merete Stallknecht, Prorector for Education, serious cause for concern:
"This was definitely not pleasant reading. When 48 percent of the students have stress symptoms in their daily life, something is very wrong. That's why I had no doubt that we had to address the issue. But at the same time I also knew that there were no quick solutions. So we decided to set up a think tank to better map the underlying reasons for why so many students experience so much stress in their lives," Bente Merete Stallknecht says.
The Think tank has five recommendations for student well-being
- It should be possible to study in different ways
- UCPH should support healthy learning environments and good student life
- UCPH should support student communities
- Students should be engaged
- UCPH should have shared knowledge and skills in relation to student well-being
It should be possible to study in different ways UCPH should support healthy learning environments and good student life UCPH should support student communities Students should be engaged UCPH should have shared knowledge and skills in relation to student well-being
Good learning at the core
The think tank's work ended in autumn 2020. “The think tank was tasked with providing a nuanced and knowledge-based picture of stress and student well-being," says Bente Stallknecht, and points out that creating good student well-being is complex:
"We can and must do a lot as a university, but the society we're part of is also very important. A good example is that we receive students from upper secondary schools where they struggle to attain a specific qualifying grade average. Many bring that performance culture on to UCPH, which contributes to the experience of stress in everyday life. As a university, we need to change that culture so we can have students who are more concerned about learning and less focused on grades. We will spend the rest of our lives learning – not necessarily to get high grades.
The think tank's findings
Bente Merete Stallknecht is pleased with the think tank's work. For one thing because UCPH now has a set of concrete recommendations for student well-being. And for another because there is now a definition of how we understand student well-being at UCPH, so we'll get a common terminology and understanding of student well-being. Her ambition is that the think tank's work should live on at UCPH:
“We have taken off now, and my ambition is that the think tank's work must out and be alive across the University. We should discuss how we incorporate well-being in the curricula. We should talk about how the recommendations can be used at the individual department or faculty, and then we should open up for discussing that strong learning environments and good student wellbeing are often two sides of the same coin.
Five recommendations for student well-being
The five recommendations for student well-being point to several different priority areas. One of the recommendations is that UCPH's framework conditions should be more flexible so that the University will not be punished financially when students prolong their studies – for example in connection with maternity/paternity leave, if they take a break from studying or study at reduced hours for a period of time. Another recommendation is that UCPH should be better at boosting communities among students:
"We know that loneliness and stress are closely connected, which is why the community aspect is part of several of the recommendations. For example that UCPH should make room for students to establish and join communities. But it's also about making it easier for students to be engaged – both academically and socially.
Specific initiatives underway
The think-tank's work is over, but the results will be a springboard for a number of specific initiatives that will be launched over the next year and, in different ways, will help to improve student well-being:
"We will see initiatives as stepping stones towards a better study environment. We have online courses on the way to both lecturers and students. We will develop a digital solution that can help creating good group work, and we will develop courses to promote mental health and prevent stress among students. The think-tank's work is over, yes, but it's also the beginning of putting student well-being on the agenda – in the University's management but just as importantly among students and lecturers," Bente Merete Stallknecht ends.