The Office for Students has a regulatory programme of work to support student success, and improving mental health is a core part of this. The projects are specifically designed to develop targeted interventions, focusing on student groups at an increased risk of poor mental health or who might face barriers to accessing support. These include international students, part-time students, or those with caring responsibilities.

Among the projects receiving award money are those led by Newcastle University Centre aimed specifically at commuter students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the University of Bristol addressing the need of autistic students for tailored mental health support, the Academy of Contemporary Music Guildford supporting undergraduate mental health in smaller or specialist providers, and the University of Bradford focusing on improving the take-up of mental health support by South Asian students. Full details of the funded projects are published on the Office for Students website. All projects will run from this summer and will complete evaluation by September 2023. They are designed to deliver improved support in the short term, and provide sustainable developments to support good practice across the entirety of the sector.

Mental health shouldn't be a barrier to ambition

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said: “Having a mental health condition should not be a barrier to success in higher education, but for many students this is still the case… students reporting a mental health condition are more likely to drop out, less likely to graduate with a first or 2:1, and progress into skilled work or further study – compared to students without a declared condition”.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Students have faced challenges over the past 18 months – and we know that access to good-quality mental health support can make all the difference to students in supporting them throughout their time at university”. She also notes that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for mental health support, which is why the different projects are vital to giving mental health support to any student at greater risk of poor mental health. These projects should allow even more students to access mental health support when they need it, which means more students will complete their journey in the education system.

The Office for Students also continues to fund the website Student Space, ran by Student Minds, which has offered students mental health support during the pandemic. Following the consultation outcome on recurrent funding for 2021-22, it has recently been announced that there will be an extension to the online services of Student Space.

The Office for Students is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Education acting as the regulator and competition authority for the higher education sector in England. The £6 million funding comes comprises £1 million provided by the Department of Health and Social Care, £2 million from the Department for Education, and £3 million in co-investment from universities, colleges and partner organisations.