UK Student Behaviour Report, commissioned by Chegg’s Center for Digital Learning and produced in partnership with Hanover Research, with input into the survey from Universities UK, delves into the state of student mental health.
- Nearly three-quarters (71%) of students say they tend to feel anxious about their classes and schoolwork
- 39% of students say textbooks are too expensive, and 34% say they cannot afford rent or housing costs
- 44% say they have trouble meeting new people and making friends whilst nearly two-thirds (64%) say they do not get enough sleep
- More than half (54%) of students struggle with practicing healthy habits like working out and healthy eating
- Less than half of students (48%) say their university provides access to mental health services – despite 77% viewing it as an important institutionally-provided resource
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of UK university students say they tend to feel anxious about their classes and coursework, whilst more than two-thirds (67%) feel embarrassed when lost in class, and fewer than half (48%) feel comfortable asking questions.
These were some of the findings of the new UK Student Behaviour Report, commissioned by Chegg’s Center for Digital Learning produced in partnership with Hanover Research. The study, developed with input from Universities UK, polled 621 UK undergraduate and graduate students between July and August 2022, months after UK universities had reopened their campuses post-lockdown. Earlier this year, the Chegg.org Global Student Survey revealed that nearly one-third (28%) of UK students felt their mental health had worsened since starting on or returning to campus after post-lockdown restrictions.
The report also reveals that their academic stress is heightened by time constraints. Over a third of students (37%) do not have enough time to study for all their classes. Many say they are dealing with either inconvenient class schedules (31%), fast-paced courses (31%), a heavy workload (31%), or unclear guidelines (29%).
Candace Sue, Executive Director of Chegg’s Center for Digital Learning, said, “Students are under so much pressure, between their studies, work, and family responsibilities. They are juggling it all as they face a perfect storm front of different challenges – from learning in the aftermath of the pandemic, rising debt levels, and now a global economic downturn”. Sue added, “Thank you to Universities UK for their valuable input in developing this study. Through this research, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the conversation around how all players in higher education can best support their students. After all, mental health can have a huge impact on academic performance, and we are deeply committed to both learner and educator success.”
The research shows that students’ mental health challenges extend far beyond the classroom. More than half (54%) of students struggle with practicing healthy habits like working out and healthy eating. They also have difficulty sleeping; almost two-thirds (64%) say they don’t get enough sleep. And despite living in the most connected era in history, students appear to suffer from loneliness. Nearly half (44%) say they have trouble meeting new people and making friends.
Students’ stress is compounded by the rising cost of living. Well over one-third (39%) say textbooks are too expensive. Last month, book publishers warned that prices were likely to increase by up to 20% due to soaring energy and raw materials prices. Students are also struggling with rent and housing costs, with around one-third saying they cannot afford them. Figures from student housing charity Unipol and the National Union for Students found that average annual rents for student accommodation in the UK had risen by 61% since the 2011-12 academic year. Adding to students’ money challenges are difficulty finding a work-study job, an issue that 53% say they face.
The survey also shows that universities have an important role to play in helping students navigate their mental health challenges. The vast majority (77%) of UK students say that mental health services are an important institutionally-provided resource. However, just under half (48%) say their university provides access to these services. These findings come as the UK higher education sector faces pressures of its own. The Russell Group, which represents 24 of the UK’s leading universities, has reported a funding shortfall of around £1,750 per student per year.