The latest survey of its kind, Everyone In produced by Unite Students, sheds light on the experiences of 6500 students studying in the UK, showing a stark disparity between different groups and the challenges they are more likely to face whilst at university.

Unite Students – the UK’s leading student accommodation provider – found that in the main, students report being satisfied with their life while at university (74%). However when split into different groups, the report uncovers communities of students who are markedly more unhappy and for whom university life appears to be more challenging.

Satisfaction in life falls to;

  • 65% for lesbian, gay and bisexual students,
  • 61% for disabled students,
  • 68 % for BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) students
  • 70% for working class students, and
  • only 54% for students with a mental health condition.
  • For those students who fall into more than one of these groups, these challenges are even more pronounced with life satisfaction falling to 49% for students in to 3 or more of these groups.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual students, students with a disability and those with mental health conditions are also more likely to consider dropping out of university. The more groups a student falls into, the more likely they are to think about dropping out of university, from 32% for those students in no specific group, to 59% of students in three groups or more.

This insight is particularly important for universities now that non-continuation figures are taken into account within the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Key findings include:

  • 48% are concerned about the potential negative impact of Brexit on their future job prospects
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and ‘other’ sexuality students are less likely to feel integrated with other students in their accommodation. They are more anxious about getting on with flatmates.
  • Over half of students with a mental health condition are not willing to disclose their condition to their university and they may lack confidence to seek support when they need it.
  • Students with a disability are less likely to believe they have gained important soft skills while at university. These include social skills, team-working and cross-cultural competence.
  • Students from socio-economic groups D and E, and Black students, experience more actual financial hardship than their peers, which in some cases includes an inability to meet basic needs.

Richard Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of Unite Students, said:

“I believe going to a UK university offers a world-class opportunity to explore potential and harness ambition. It is encouraging that overall 74% of students find university deliver this. It is also true that the transition to life at university is significant and not all students find every aspect easy. This is not surprising or necessarily a bad thing: learning to cope with the challenges of everyday life is very much part of the growing up and university experience. However, what this data has identified is that there are groups of students who appear to find aspects of university life more challenging. At Unite, we believe we have an important role to play in the success of students, and that’s why we feel it is right to see what more we can do to help the students that need us and why this data will help us, along with our partners, to enhance and evolve the support and service we offer”.

Unite uses their annual report data – now in its 5th year - to shape their services with the aim of better supporting students while at university. This data continues to inform the expansion of Unite’s services, which go beyond the physical buildings themselves and includes the development of innovative tools: Unite’s student-facing apps, such as uChat, which allows students to chat to their flatmates before they arrive in their accommodation, and student ambassadors who provide a warm welcome.

Unite has made this insight publically available and also provides workshops to help universities, student unions, policy-makers, schools and other organisations to better understand the challenges facing their young people and support them to work together to deliver for students.

Some conclusions from the report by grouping:

LGBT+

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and ‘other’ sexuality students experience disadvantage and lower confidence in the social sphere, are more likely to think about and take actions towards dropping out, and are more likely to have a mental health condition.
  • Based on the proportion of students in this survey identifying as LGB+, this equates to 164,000 LGB+ students who considering dropping out each year.

Disability

  • Students with a disability are less likely to feel integrated with other students they live with, and less likely to believe they have gained important soft skills while at university.
  • For example, this equates to 38,000 students with a disability who do not believe they have gained social skills while at university.

Mental Health

  • Students with a mental health condition are less happy and more likely to think about dropping out of university. While they are positive about the support offered by their university, many are not willing to disclose their condition to their university and they may lack confidence to seek support when they need it.
  • This means there are 108,000 students who have a mental health condition but are not confident about accessing their university’s pastoral or wellbeing service.

Groups DE

  • Students from socio-economic groups D and E, and Black students, experience more actual financial hardship than their peers, which in some cases includes an inability to meet basic needs.
  • This would equate to 24,600 students from D and E socio-economic groups not being able to pay their bills on time.

To download the full report or for more information about Unite’s insight and research programme, please visit: http://www.unite-group.co.uk/insight-report-2017.

For further information, please contact:

Allison Parkes-Norris, External Communications Manager
Tel: 07715 798151

Tom Milsted, External Communications Executive
Tel: 07935 504692

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