Student mental wellbeing and the curriculum

Heather Gray, Shiv Shanmugam, Rachel Simpson, Catriona Cunningham

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This collaborative cluster on Student Mental Wellbeing and the Curriculum formed part of the 2017-20 Enhancement Theme - 'Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the StudentExperience'. The key work of this cluster was to organise a series of professional development events for the higher education sector in order to develop the capacity of academic staff in their design of inclusive curricula to promote student mental wellbeing.In total, there were 794 registrants across the four events from 141 different organisations across 22 countries, including Australia, Malaysia and Iceland. 85% of registrants wereemployed in universities, followed by students' associations (5%), colleges (4%) and 'other'organisations (4%). In Scotland, there were 521 registrants from all but one of its 19 universities - Queen Margaret University.Although the initial aim of the collaborative cluster was directed towards academic staff, itwas observed that they formed 50% of registrants, followed by: professional service staff (25%) - such as those from student wellbeing, disability services, counselling, diversity andinclusion, and admissions; academic quality and academic development staff (15%); and student officers and students (10%).Of the 794 total registrants, 505 converted to attendee status, giving a mean registrant toattendee conversion of 64% (range 57%-71%), with the face-to-face event having thehighest conversion rate (71%). The webinar conversion rates were very reasonable at57%-64%.Across the four events, there were 10 presentations/workshops covering a wide variety offactors that can impact upon student mental wellbeing, such as: the role of the academic andthe curriculum; digital accessibility; five ways to mental wellbeing; personal tutoring;principles that support teaching, learning and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic; theconnections between curriculum co-creation and student mental wellbeing; andcompassionate assessment.Following the four events, a short electronic survey was distributed to all 794 registrants,to gauge interest for a student mental wellbeing special interest group. There were 85respondents (11% response rate), with 88% from universities. The survey indicated acontinuing appetite and expressed need for work in this area to raise awareness of studentmental wellbeing and equip staff and students in designing inclusive curriculum throughfurther events, resources, working groups and collaborative research.Therefore, it is recommended that continuing professional development work is carried outacross the higher education sector in the aforementioned areas, with consideration to focuson specific groups of learners for whom mental wellbeing is evidenced as a particularconcern, for example, those from BAME and LGBTQ+ communities.With regard to mode of delivery, the use of webinars, rather than face-to-face events, bringsmany advantages such as, widening access, engaging participants in chat and question andanswer functions, and facilitating recording and curation. Therefore, it is recommended thatthese are continued in future professional development events, making use of ever-ongoingtechnological enhancements as they become available.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherQAA Scotland
Commissioning bodyThe Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • student
  • mental wellbeing
  • curriculum


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