11 February 2021

SEDA presents: Establishing a Wellbeing Equilibrium – Student Wellbeing

Wellbeing is a critical and topical area in HE due to many headlines about mental ill-health and attrition of students and staff. The HE sector has responded by producing the Universities UK Step Change Framework (2017) and the Student Mind Mental Health Charter in 2019 but these workshops help us to consider and share ideas and initiatives that different universities are exploring to support student, staff and educational developer wellbeing.

Each workshop will hear from a range of contributors about work within their institutions followed by Question and Answer. The second part of each workshop will be time to discuss and consider together practical developments, any barriers, learning from others and general conversations about wellbeing.

Come along to hear about how some universities are trialling new methods to support wellbeing within their institutions and for you to have a pause to think about wellbeing and a time to be inspired of ideas to try in your own area.

Workshop One: Student Wellbeing

Consideration of students’ wellbeing is a current priority in HE. This webinar will focus on student wellbeing in HE from four different perspectives as detailed below. Following four brief presentations, there will be an opportunity for attendees to engaged in a detailed discussion to draw upon experiences and importantly strategies/best practice to support student wellbeing in HE. .


The workshop will be presented via Zoom on 11 February 12.30-2.30pm.

Presentation 1: Is Everything OK? Internationalisation of the Curriculum and Constructions of Wellbeing – Silvia Colaiacomo

Dr Silvia Colaiacomo is a Lecturer in the Arena Centre for Research-Based Education at UCL. Her main area of responsibility is overlooking the teacher training provision for Postgraduate Teaching Assistants. Her background is in history of art and modern foreign languages, which I taught in HE in the UK and internationally. Since 2016, she has been focusing on academic development programmes for teaching and support staff. She is particularly interested in internationalisation of the curriculum and exploring the interaction between space, pedagogy and technology in different disciplinary settings.

The session will explore different activities carried out by HE institutions in the UK to support international students holistically. The golden thread between the different activities is an understanding that we need to develop a common language of wellbeing with students and a shared understanding of needs, values and priorities. These are often culturally defined and taken for granted, whilst they need to be interrogated and contextualised.

Presentation 2: Wellbeing Challenges: A Comparison Between Foundation Students and Postgraduate Research Students – Katryna Kalawsky and Sarah Turner

Dr Katryna Kalawsky (FHEA) is Loughborough University’s (LU) Doctoral Researcher Development Officer. This encompasses the design, promotion, delivery and evaluation of training and development programmes. In 2019 she received a Vice Chancellor Award of Excellence for promoting doctoral wellbeing. Katryna is also a Mental Health First Aider, a member of the UK Council for Graduate Education’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Working Group and a Hall Warden to 400 undergraduates.

In the UK HE system, there are a range of student cohorts at different phases of their university programme with differing wellbeing challenges and needs as a result of differing academic and personal demands. During this session, the wellbeing of two distinct types of students (foundation students and postgraduate researchers (PGRs)) will be explored and compared. Issues impacting on wellbeing will be identified and strategies to support/prevent will be discussed.

Presentation 3: Enhancing Student Wellbeing and Student Belonging in University through a Gamification Approach – Jan Bamford and Sheelagh Heugh

Prof. Jan Bamford is a Head of Student Experience and Academic Outcomes at London Metropolitan University and has been a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2014. Her research interests are focused around the experience of cultural diversity in the classroom, developing student belonging, improving the student experience and internationalising the curriculum. She has recently published a book on exploring students’ cultural journeys in higher education and is a founder member of the Advance HE Connect INRAP group and Co-Director of the university’s Higher Education Research Group

In this session I will explore the ways in which extra-curricular activities can enhance the mental wellbeing of students, building a sense of community and recognition of their participation in university life. Many students studying in urban campuses, who are classed as living at home and are often referred to as ‘commuter students’, with busy lives outside the university where childcare, caring and or employment commitments take equal place alongside study commitments and may therefore have higher levels of psychological distress than the general population. I hope to offer some insights into an initiative developed by a university-wide project team, with the aims of enhancing student wellbeing and belonging and developing transferable skills. The multi-layered approach offered throughout the students’ learning journey was developed in a gamified format, which offered a fun element to extra-curricular activity and sought to address both the external and internal factors that contribute to building resilience and wellbeing amongst students.

Presentation 4: Facing the Challenges of University Study: An Academic Resilience Intervention for Students – Vivien Bell and Simon Cassidy

Dr Viv Bell has worked in the education sector for 18 years and has experience of teaching, student support and learning development, providing both academic and pastoral guidance to a diverse range of students. She is currently an Academic Skills Consultant in the Library Learning and Research Support Team at the University of Salford and is passionate about nurturing students’ wellbeing and helping them to reach their academic potential.

Dr Simon Cassidy is a chartered psychologist, senior academic, researcher and postgraduate studies programme lead with research expertise and international publications in the areas of psychological resilience, self-regulation and self-efficacy, cognitive styles and psychometrics.

In this session, the design, running and evaluation of a workshop building students academic resilience will be shared. Students need to understand and equip themselves to be able to manage and juggle many demands and be able to be resilient in their studies but also in later life. This was supported by a university initiative and learning points for continued development of this project will be explored.