The future is flexible: student services and wellbeing beyond Covid

London Met's Mark Ellul spoke at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, exploring student wellbeing.

Date: 10 August 2021

London Met’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Services, Mark Ellul, recently took part in a panel discussion focused on student wellbeing during and beyond Covid, which explored the challenges facing students that the pandemic has raised or exacerbated. 

Hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, a US-based news outlet dedicated to covering colleges and universities, Mark joined an expert panel comprised of Zoe Ragouzeous, Executive Director of New York University’s Counselling and Wellness Centre; Vivian D. Barnette, Director of the Counselling Centre at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; and Jennifer Russell, Clinical Director of TalkCampus.

Asked about a recent survey that showed that 40% of students said that flexible learning options are the most important thing colleges and universities can do to increase their well-being, Mark said, "We all have learnt a lot from lockdown. The last year or so has been tough for everyone, students, staff, families and communities. We have received some fantastic feedback about the way we have delivered our teaching.

"We are seeing the highest levels of satisfaction across the board and we think a lot of this is to do with the way we reacted to and provided learning and teaching during the pandemic.

"We are going to take the best parts of the last year and make them business as usual. Our students have busy and complex lives and they have let us know that they prefer to do some things online, but also want to retain the face-to-face nature of university life.

"Across our university provision, we are going to give students options. Options to access learning and teaching as well as the student services (such as wellbeing and emotional support) online."

He also commented on the resilience of students and the higher education sector he has seen over his more than twenty year career, saying: "Higher Education in the UK has changed a lot over the time I have been working with it. We have seen governments change, the introduction of a mainly student fee based system and the introduction of a more regulated sector to name just a few. We have adapted and thrived no matter what challenge we are presented with. We can continue to do this.

"By listening to our students and the students of tomorrow we can provide education and student services that meet their needs.

"We do not know what will happen between now and the start of teaching, but whatever happens we will be ready to change and I think our students are ready for whatever is thrown at them and if they are not, we are ready to support them in whatever they need."