Student groups most at risk of poor #MentalHealth will benefit from more targeted support through a £1million government funding boost, it has been announced on #UniversityMentalHealthDay (5 March).

The funding will create new projects to support groups of students research suggests could be more ‘at risk’ of developing a mental health condition, such as black or ethnic minority students, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, LGBT+ students or those with a disability.

The money, provided by the Department for Health and Social Care, will go to the universities regulator the Office for Students (OfS), who is inviting bidders to submit proposals that will target and help students who might be at greater risk of mental ill health or who may face barriers to getting support.

In a 2019 survey, 17% of students reported having a mental health condition (up from 12% in 2016) and one in four students say they often or always feel lonely, according to a report by HEPI.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: 

“Going to university can be a really challenging time, especially if you face added pressures or if you are balancing studies alongside other commitments like carers and mature students.

“It is vital no student is put at risk by not getting the help they need. Universities must step up to this challenge, and this funding will help them and the sector by looking at ways support can be better targeted and improved.”

OfS data has highlighted how outcomes for some student groups are more likely to be impacted by mental health problems. For example, the degree attainment gap between black and white students with a reported mental health condition is 26.8 percentage points.

Successful projects will also target groups of students who might face barriers in accessing support, like carers, part-time and international students and those on placements as part of their course.

The projects will also be judged on how they use innovative and technological approaches to addressing mental health issues, in line with the new NHS drive for improvement in digital support.

Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:

“All students deserve the opportunity to thrive at university and college, but for too many mental ill-health remains a significant barrier. We know that there are many factors which can impact the wellbeing of students and situations where students may be or feel more vulnerable. Through this funding we want to support innovative and strategic solutions that can help ensure that all students, regardless of their background or how they study, get the support they need.

“By working together with partners including the NHS and charities, universities and colleges have the power to address the complex issues associated with student mental ill-health. We will be sharing the effective practice that comes from this funding and driving improved mental health support for all students.”

John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK and Universities UK’s mental health policy lead, said:

“We welcome this dedicated funding to identify how universities can best support those most at risk of mental health difficulties. 

"We all have mental health but people face unequal challenges to their mental health. The support that universities offer to those experiencing poor mental health must address those unequal challenges, working with students and staff to understand their diverse needs and to ensure that support services are appropriate for those of all characteristics, backgrounds and experiences.

“Universities UK has led on the development and implementation of a whole university approach to mental health, ensuring that mental health and wellbeing are at the core of all university activities and in their offer to all students and all staff.”

The Government also has an ambitious programme supporting good mental health in schools and colleges, implementing a range of measures outlined in the 2018 Green Paper. This includes introducing new Mental Health Support Teams, training for mental health leads in schools and colleges, and the £9.3 million Link Programme to ensure more joined up care with specialist NHS services.

This is alongside all children in schools being taught how to look after their mental wellbeing through compulsory relationships and health education, before university.

Students who report a mental health condition are more likely to drop out of higher education, less likely to progress into skilled work or further study, and graduate with a first or 2:1 – compared to students without a declared mental health condition. OfS data shows that these gaps widen significantly when linked with other characteristics such as ethnicity and mode of study.

Today’s announcement builds on an existing £14.5 million mental health funding programme launched by the OfS last year. Examples of successful projects to the OfS’ previous Mental Health Challenge Competition, include:

The University of the West of England, Bristol leading a project to understand and improve partnerships between higher education and the NHS at both a regional and national level to improve mental health support for students

Students in Transition at University: Aiming to Enhance project, supporting students at key educational transitions such as before university and between years of study. The project is targeted at students from ethnic minority backgrounds or who are LGBT+. It focuses on prevention and early intervention and is delivered by older students, led by the University of Sussex with the University of Brighton and the Mental Health Foundation.

The University of Birmingham establishing a hub of qualified therapists and mental health volunteers offering support for students without the need for appointments or waiting lists. Working with the Children’s Society and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, the project will run 50 weeks per year across campus ensuring easy access for students.

Through the competition, the OfS is inviting higher education providers to develop and implement projects which provide innovative approaches to improving mental health outcomes for students.

All bids must address one of the following priorities:

  • providing targeted support for groups of students with characteristics identified as increasing the risk of poor mental health – for example ethnicity and socioeconomic background
  • groups of students who may experience barriers to accessing support due to their course, mode of study, or other characteristics – for example commuter and mature students, part-time students, carers, care leavers, postgraduates, international students and LGBT+ students.

Other criteria for judgement include how bids explore using digital technology to develop preventative strategies and how they engage with students in creating solutions.

Data published by the OfS shows that the proportion of full-time students in England declaring a mental health condition more than doubled within five years, from 1.4 per cent in 2012-13 to 3.5 per cent in 2017-18.

Students who report a mental health condition are more likely to drop out of higher education, less likely to progress into skilled work or further study, and graduate with a first or 2:1 – compared to students without a declared mental health condition. OfS data shows that these gaps widen significantly when linked with other characteristics such as ethnicity and mode of study (see note two).

The funding competition will complement our existing £14.5 million mental health Challenge Competition programme. It has funded a network of 10 projects across the country with over 50 partners including universities, further education colleges, sixth form colleges, local NHS trusts and charities.

OfS data on student mental health shows that:

Among part-time students, those who came from the most deprived areas were most likely to report having a mental health condition, while those from the least deprived were least likely to do so.

Black students with a declared mental health condition have some of the lowest continuation and attainment rates. In 2017-18, 53 per cent of black students with a reported mental health condition graduated with a first or 2:1, compared to 77 per cent of all students reporting a mental health condition. In 2016-17, 87 per cent of students with mental health conditions continued their studies after their first year – for black students the rate was 77 per cent.

Disability information (including whether a student has a mental health condition) is recorded by providers at the point of entry to higher education. Students may also declare disability information during their time in higher education and this information should be recorded by the provider.

Mental health conditions are self-reported to the provider, based on the students’ own self-assessment. If a student considers themselves to have more than one disability, they are recorded as having ‘multiple impairments’. It is not possible to see whether these disabilities include a mental health condition.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 8 hours 21 minutes ago

Richard Branson Pop Up Broadclyst

Richard Branson surprises school kids by popping up on Microsoft Teams to join an Enterprise lesson at Broadclyst School, Devon. He tells budding...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 8 hours 22 minutes ago

Impetus #YouthJobsGap: Our Youth Jobs Gap research shows youth unemployment is far from being yesterday’s problem.…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page