An end of project conference was delivered by project staff and students in March 2022, at the culmination of over two years work, to disseminate and showcase activities, work and findings from the project, along with informative sessions from partners, stakeholders and guests.
Abstracts and presentation slides from all sessions are available for further information:
Transitioning Students Effectively: Project Overview
Zoë Mills, Project Manager, University of Lincoln
If unprepared, university life can impact massively with the changes that it brings. Becoming truly independent for the first time, leaving a familiar home and environment could cause anxiety for many individuals. Navigating new cities and campuses, managing finances, changes to routine and academic learning alongside new social interactions, for some, can prove vast steps to take.
The University of Lincoln undertook a project, funded by the Office for Students, offering a city-wide approach, supporting students ahead of arriving at university. It extended and enhanced the provision of support on offer, working collaboratively with colleagues across the university and project partners in the wider community. The project developed a peer-to-peer approach to support students, their wellbeing and mental health, with a focus on the transition from school or college to university.
This session provided an overview of the project, its aims, main activities and highlights from work undertaken. It also discussed challenges faced by the team, key findings and recommendations for practitioners or future projects to consider, as well as initiatives from the project that will remain as its ‘legacy’.
Transitioning Students Effectively: Outreach and activities undertaken by the Transitional Wellbeing Team
Making mental health relatable using student-created content
Digital Student Experience Team, University of Lincoln
- Jasmine Foley, Digital Project Lead
- Talie Colbourne, Interim Digital Project Lead
- Holly Woollock, Digital Content Creative Assistant
- Lucy Toogood, Student Digital Content Creator Alumni
- Sally Hallett, Student Life Editor
- Owen Liggins, Student Digital Content Creator
- Tori Wood, Fresher Take Podcast Host
- Alex Shenstone, Fresher Take Podcast Host
Student-led, relatable content that de-medicalises mental wellbeing is a key factor of engaging the student population. This was shown in Barrable et al.’s study into an online intervention system aimed at supporting mental health, wellbeing and study skills in Higher Education (Barrable et al., 2018). The study found that apps and content which avoid clinical style content are more likely to increase engagement and reduce attrition, and that the design of content is key to engaging and retaining student use. Those who participated in digital peer interactions also appeared to enjoy increased capacity to challenge stigma and negative attitudes towards mental illness, with the knowledge that others are facing similar difficulties offering empowerment and providing hope (Lawlor and Kirakowski, 2014).
The student panel showcased and discussed the peer-led digital resources and tools that have been created during the project. Panellists included students from a range of initiatives such as the Fresher Take podcast, videos and the Student Life App. It explored successes, challenges and learnings that can help to shape future student-led digital content creation.
Lincoln Students’ Union Wellbeing Network
Enabling students to co-produce a chatbot to enhance digitally enabled care at the University of Lincoln
Leanne Taylor: Business Development Officer, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
This session demonstrated how NHS colleagues partnered with systems across the Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to accelerate the use of a Digital Self-Management Platform, with co-production from students at the University of Lincoln.
The project connected 16,000 students with a digital platform – VitruCare, to enable them to maintain good health and wellbeing. This provided access to Student Wellbeing services, the GP Practice, a ‘Chatbot’ and the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline, all from their own device.
Students co-produced the design, and they were able to contribute to the development, for example amending terminology based on their feedback. Students tested the proof of concept and accelerated the build as result of COVID-19.
Evaluating Mindfulness‐Based Strengths Practice in Higher Education
Transition to HE: How raising aspirations creates better transition journeys
Jonathan Lidster, Project Lead, LiNCHigher
LiNCHigher is a collaborative project, part of a wider national initiative called OfS Uni Connect, funded by the OfS. The overall aim is to increase aspirations amongst young people and achieve the government target of supporting under-represented adults’ and young people’s access to Higher Education, Apprenticeships and training opportunities. The LiNCHigher consortia consists of the 2 Universities in Lincolnshire, the 6 FE Colleges, and the County Council.
LiNCHigher works with and in 51 schools and colleges to deliver exciting activity programmes and outreach activities, as well as hosting an online training platform, a website for careers information called Future Focus. It also supports community groups and wider communities of under-represented learners, such as GRT students, and learners from a service family background.
This session talked about why it is important, particularly working with under-represented students, to positively discuss their transition into Higher Education. LiNCHigher know that there is a connection between good careers education and transition support, with positive mental wellbeing. This session explored the role that LiNCHigher play, in not just raising aspirations of Lincolnshire’s young people and adults towards Higher Education, but how the team also support them with their transition into, and through it, by providing them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes, to thrive in Higher Education! It also discussed how LiNCHigher can better support students’ transition into Higher Education, and consequently support with their mental wellbeing, by more proactively working with students at an earlier stage in their education.