In the House of Commons earlier today Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, called for reassurance that suitable mental health and pastoral support was in place for university students.
Dr Hudson was asking the question during an Urgent Question session on support for university students as a result of the pandemic. The Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP replied on behalf of the government.
Dr Hudson asked:
“I very much welcome this important support package to help our students in these difficult times. As someone who has worked in Higher Education for many years, both teaching and supporting students, I know first-hand the stresses and strains our students face, not least the mental health issues many experience. This has been brought into sharp relief in this pandemic. Can my Honourable Friend give reassurance to students and their families that institutions are providing suitable mental health and pastoral support to students both on site and remotely, and that Government is working to help institutions to do this?”
In response Michelle Donelan said:
“This is something that I am particularly passionate about, at every stage I have reiterated to institutions the importance of mental health and wellbeing provision and moving that online. I know that equally Higher Education institutions are passionate about providing this level of support. We have worked with the Office for Students to launch ‘Student Space’ which is a £3 million project designed specifically to fill in some of the gaps that may have been exposed during the pandemic and I have established a Higher Education working group to make sure students are aware of the support available and boost it.
Commenting after the Commons session Dr Hudson said:
“I was very pleased with the comprehensive reply that the Minister issued. It shows the government’s commitment to work with institutions to make sure students have all the support they need. Having worked in the Higher Education sector for many years I am passionate that students have the foundations and support they need to achieve all they can.
Students have had to constantly adapt to different work patterns and practices throughout the pandemic and projects like ‘Student Space’ can offer a vital service.”