5 November 2020

Student Space programme extended to June 2021

Student Space, the online mental health platform, has been extended to deliver support for students in Wales and in England until the end of the current academic year.

Developed by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, to help students navigate support for mental health and well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic, Student Space complements the well-being and health support already in place at universities, colleges, the National Health Services in Wales and in England and other local and national third sector organisations.

As well as a bilingual website that offers resources and guidance, Student Space provides phone, email, and text support. It also offers educational resources and opportunities to help students to manage stress and maintain good mental health and well-being.

HEFCW has invested £190k in Student Space, which the Office for Students (OfS) also funds. HEFCW’s investment is in addition to the Welsh Government’s £10 million funding package to bolster university mental health services and student financial hardship funds during the 2020/21 academic year. Most recently, HEFCW announced an additional £2.7 million for universities to implement well-being and health strategies in 2020/21.

Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “It is important that this resource will continue to the end of the academic year. This service works with providers in Wales to reach out to all our student populations, contributing to the wider range of support systems they already have in place for students. We will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government, NUS Wales and higher education providers to identify support where it is needed for students living and learning at universities in Wales.”

Kirsty Williams MS, the Minister for Education, said: “Meeting peers and lecturers day-to-day on campus is an integral part of university life. We know that the need to limit those interactions is a real challenge for both students and staff. I’m pleased that, through HEFCW, we’re supporting students at Welsh universities through this difficult period, in addition to the funding we’re providing this year to support mental health in higher education.”

Becky Ricketts, NUS Wales President, said: “I welcome the extension of the Student Space programme to the end of the academic year. The programme has been well received by students and students’ unions and will be a valuable resource for students throughout 2020/21. Continued investment in accessible, bilingual mental health support for students across Wales will be crucial to safeguard their well-being.”

Students Minds Chief Executive, Rosie Tressler OBE, has written about the challenges faced by students since the start of the new academic year and what Student Minds’ have learned from overseeing the Student Space programme so far.

Commenting on the extension, Rosie added: “We know that even in a “normal” year, there’s a broad range of difficulties a student might face that can impact their well-being and mental health at university. The pandemic has brought on new challenges in addition to exacerbating existing ones, and we were proud to launch Student Space back in August to respond to mental health concerns resulting from the pandemic.

“We’re pleased to confirm that we will be able to draw on the original funding allocation to deliver Student Space until the end of this academic year and will be working with our various partners to empower more students to access guidance or support when they need it. There is much more to be done to support this generation and tackle the root causes of distress and health problems in the years ahead. We hope that this will form part of a range of support for students and to protect the mental health of the nation, at a time where it has never been more crucial.”

The Student Space programme is a short-term, targeted intervention to respond to the particular challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Resources created through this programme are available to all providers across Wales and England.

The project is led by the higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students (OfS). HEFCW has contributed to this project and support is available for students at HEFCW regulated institutions. We have provided additional funding to make resources available bilingually.