Supporting students in higher education: results and recommendations following a paradigm shift within a Scottish Ancient

Chris Lusk, Anne Fearfull

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    The model of emotional support to students in Higher Education for over 40 years has been one of 'person-centred therapy'. Factors now challenge the supremacy of this approach, including its delivery format in an environment of extra-curricular demands, academic timetabling, students' financial restrictions (often requiring them to take paid work alongside their studies), and the requirement for them to build an undergraduate portfolio of employability to supplement their degree attainment. Other influential factors include staff accountability to the institution clashing with professional protocols, and duty of care dilemmas for support staff. In 2003, an action research project exploring the quality of its student counselling resulted in a Scottish Ancient university replacing traditional student counselling with a mental wellbeing service for students, which came to be known as 'Support Advising'. This revised approach brought together professional staff from diverse disciplines providing short-term, focused individual and group work; student-led and with shared information databases. This paper examines the project's success, with regard to it representing a paradigm shift. Thus we address the central concepts of institutional purpose and responsibility boundaries, renegotiate the interpretation of 'professional confidentiality', and look to the future evolution of a mental wellbeing service in the context of student support.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1107-1127
    Number of pages21
    JournalStudies in Higher Education
    Issue number6
    Early online date16 Apr 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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