Research findings now available: How connected, engaged and supported are undergraduate students in the UK?

At our first Enlitened insight event on 14th January 2020, we presented new research findings about student engagement, connectedness, and how students access information and support at university. The findings are now available to all – you can download the report here!

Key findings

A selection of the key findings include:

  • 54% of respondents feel connected to their university.
  • Second year respondents feel less connected to their university than first and third years.
  • 63% of respondents have kept mental wellbeing concerns to themselves and not sought help from their university in the last year.
  • 74% of respondents felt something has stopped them from getting support from their university for a range of concerns. Key barriers to accessing support include shyness, lack of confidence, and lack of energy.
  • Friends and family are the most trusted source of support for respondents and the first port of call, both when times are good and not so good. In total, 67% of respondents trust family or friends for support.

What’s the purpose of the research?

The research was conducted by TSR Insight, a full-service market research agency and insight consultancy that is part of The Student Room Group. The research was commissioned for multiple purposes, including to:

  • Gather insight into how connected students feel with their universities and how they access support when they need it.
  • Understand any barriers for students when accessing support from their universities.
  • Identify and understand any differences within student segments.
  • Explore whether students use different channels depending on where they are on a support journey.
  • Identify areas for further research and investigation.

Download the report now >

The sample

The online survey was completed by 879 current undergraduate students from 128 universities, geographically spread across the UK.

Most respondents are in their first year of study (54%), but there are also respondents in their second year, third year and fourth year +. The report includes further demographic breakdown of the respondents.

The survey’s respondents are all self-selected. Some are users of The Student Room online community, while others were made aware of the survey either by seeing an advert on social media or by communication from their university.

The report

The report’s insights are organised into eight sections. These are:

1. How connected are students?

The first section reports on how connected respondents feel to their university and how this varies between those in different years of study. It also looks at variations in respondents’ answers by student segments (including commuter respondents, those who consider themselves as having a disability, and first generation respondents). And lastly, the impact of being a member of a club or society on the respondents’ feelings.

2. How aware are students of the support available to them?

This section focuses on whether respondents are aware of how their university would support them with concerns in various areas, including academic, mental wellbeing, and harassment, discrimination and bullying.

3. Are students getting support?

One of the headline findings from this section is that 63% of respondents have kept mental wellbeing concerns to themselves and not sought help from their university in the past year. Learn more about the types of concerns that respondents have kept to themselves, along with variations by student segments and year of study.

4. Are there barriers stopping students from getting support?

This section takes a closer look at the barriers that are stopping students from seeking support from their university. Again, it considers how these blockers vary by student segments and year of study.

5. Do students trust their university?

To what extent do students trust their university? We asked respondents whether they would trust their university to support them with concerns across a range of different areas.

6. Does awareness affect trust?

This section presents findings on the relationship between respondents’ awareness of how their university would support them with a range of concerns and whether they would trust their university to support them.

7. Do students want different support depending on how they are feeling?

Respondents were asked: ‘Which of the following information and support channels do you trust (in terms of anonymity, confidentiality, and providing a safe space)?’, and presented with 15 categories of information and support channels to consider. They were then asked the same question in terms of when they are feeling a) positive, happy, motivated, b) frustrated, upset, demotivated, and c) anxious, stressed, depressed.

8. What do students want to see offered by support services?

The final section includes findings around how important respondents deem anonymity to be when seeking support and their preferred method of speaking to someone directly when they need support, help or advice.

Access the report and get involved

The report findings can be accessed here and are free for anyone that’s interested in reading them. Simply fill in your name and organisation to receive the report immediately.

We’d love to hear any thoughts on the report. Additionally, on the final page of the report, is a list of several areas that have been identified for potential future research through these initial findings. We would welcome your interest in supporting us with further research.

You can get in touch with us here.