AMOSSHE’s first winter conference explores living well and studying well

AMOSSHE winter conferenceAMOSSHE’s first winter conference, Live Well, Study Well, took place on Friday 6 February 2015 in London. At the event delegates explored how Student Services in higher education can support and enhance student wellbeing and the student experience.

A full programme of presentations and workshops examined a range of topical areas on the ‘to-do’ list for Student Services professionals.

Live Well, StudyUnite Students Well
was kindly supported by
Unite Students.

NUS and AMOSSHE take the lead

Colum McGuire

Colum McGuire

The conference opened with a keynote address from Colum McGuire (Vice President Welfare, National Union of Students), who outlined current concerns and issues for students about the impact of living standards, student culture and health on wellbeing and academic success, suggesting what needs to be done and where Student Services professionals can play a key role. Then Brian Hipkin, (Dean of Students, Regent’s University and Vice Chair, AMOSSHE) discussed the practical challenges and opportunities that Student Services professionals face.

Supporting students with mental health problems and with SpLD

Sarah Howls (Head of Student Opportunity, HEFCE) presented the current findings of two ongoing research projects, which explore strategic approaches to support at a range of UK universities for students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD), and students with complex or intensive mental health / impairment support needs. Sarah also outlined how the research may be used by other institutions and the next steps for the projects.

Accommodating Relationships

Jenny Shaw and Brian Hipkin lead “Accommodating Relationships”

Developing relationships with external halls providers

Brian Hipkin took to the floor again to lead a workshop with Jenny Shaw (Head of Higher Education Engagement, Unite Students). This workshop asked why Student Services need to develop relationships with external halls providers, and explored the challenges and benefits of doing so. Brian and Jenny drew on examples of good practice from institutions that work with external providers to discuss how to manage good relationships, and then led a discussion to explore what would need to be included in a collaborative framework for working with external halls providers.

Good mental health through peer support

Student MindsRosie Tressler (Networks and Projects Manager, Student Minds) introduced the work that Student Minds is doing within institutions to support and equip students to bring about positive change in the state of their peers’ mental health. Rosie explored case studies where peer work has been very successful, and made recommendations for good practice from the lessons learned. Rosie also discussed Student Minds’ recent research, and how Student Services can learn from the outcomes.

Legal highs and drug culture

Angelus FoundationJan King (CEO, Angelus Foundation) and Jeremy Sare (Drugs Policy Consultant & Writer, Angelus Foundation) shared the Angelus Foundation story, and introduced some of their legal highs awareness materials, and their work with the University of Sussex to develop a university-wide approach to minimising the harm these substances pose. Angelus Foundation was set up following the death of 21 year-old medical student Hester Stewart, who took a so-called ‘legal high’. Angelus has since developed awareness packages for young people to alert them to this threat to their wellbeing, while also campaigning to change the availability of these drugs.

Student Services and the Prevent agenda

Aubrey Magill (FE Lead on Prevent, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and Barrie Phillips (All-Wales HE/FE Prevent Coordinator) explored radicalisation and the UK government’s Prevent strategy. They led a discussion about the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, and discussed the nature of concerns nationally, the role of Student Services in the developing strategy, and how relationships with Prevent can be improved.

Fitness to study

Sally Olohan (Head of Student Support Services, Nottingham Trent University) and Annie Grant (Dean of Students & Director of Student Services, University of East Anglia) outlined some of the challenges in determining whether a student is fit to engage with their studies, and looked at current thinking in the sector. Then they led a practical workshop using case study material to consider guiding principles.

Sexual consent and lad culture

Maria Lorenzini

Maria Lorenzini

Maria Lorenzini (Director of Student Experience, Bangor University, and AMOSSHE Executive Member) led an examination of growing media attention on the issues of sexual consent and lad culture. Joined by Charlotte Pepper (Counsellor, Bangor University) and Kelly Isaacs (Detective Inspector, North Wales Police), Maria introduced Bangor University’s response to these problems, and explored how other Student Services can work internally to become a more influential voice in changing institutional cultures. Maria also explored the challenges and opportunities involved in the process of change, and evaluated the impact of current initiatives within higher education.

Supporting students at home

The conference ended with a panel debate that addressed the challenges faced by students who don’t live in university-owned accommodation, and how Student Services can support them. The panel included Colum McGuire (NUS), Gavin Dick (Local Authority Policy Officer, National Landlords Association), Jenny Shaw (Unite Students) and Alice Garside (Housing Caseworker, Manchester Student Homes).

Thank you to everyone involved in our first winter conference: speakers, staff and especially the delegates!

Find more AMOSSHE events.

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