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What matters to undergraduates? Exploring student quality of life
Perhaps now more than ever, it’s important for us to understand what sort of challenges students face that impact on their quality of life. Before the pandemic hit, we spoke to undergraduate students about these challenges, and used this to develop a measure of student quality of life. Now we’d like to get the views of more students, to see which of these challenges are experienced the most often, and which have the biggest influence on the quality of life of students. This project is led by Dr Alyson Dodd, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northumbria University. Alyson is part of the leadership team for SMaRteN, a national network focused on understanding student mental health and well-being. Alyson has been a mental health researcher for more than a decade, and she has long been passionate about student mental health and well-
being, especially having had personal experience of mental health difficulties when she was a student herself. Alyson lives by the sea in the North East, with her partner and their Border Terrier, Ruby, who has been a wonderful companion during lockdowns – and a reason to get out walking each day!
This project was developed in recognition that many existing questionnaires used to measure well-being and quality of life in students were not developed in collaboration with students themselves. Students have shaped this project at each step of the journey, so that the final measure of quality of life includes the priorities and experiences of students.
Although times have changed a lot since we spoke to students about what a measure of their quality of life would need to capture, many of these challenges are still relevant in the context of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Our aim is to refine this measure so it can be used by universities to identify areas in which students might be struggling.