Bristol SU Awards 2019

By Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience).

The last week of term was an exciting mix of celebrations and events, but the real highlight for me was being a guest at the Bristol SU Awards on Thursday 13 June. The SU awards recognise individuals or groups who have done a brilliant job in areas as diverse as student leadership, sustainability, being a fantastic staff member, or an exceptional club or society. Nominations come from students, SU and university staff, so the Awards really reflect the SU-university partnership.

The event itself was incredible. The Anson Rooms were transformed from a functional event space into a glamorous and atmospheric venue with great food and fantastic live entertainment from Jazz Funk Soul, Hindu Soc (who later won Society of the Year), UkeSoc, plus an amazingly energetic Salsa performance. But, of course, it was the nominees and award winners that stole the show. The incredible enthusiasm shown by the audience for the winners was infectious. I can’t do justice to all the awards but will give you a brief picture, so you get the idea. The full list of nominees is on the SU website.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, presented the student leader award to Amy-Leigh Hatton for her work as president of Student Action for Refugees. This was followed by a sustainability award for Maddie Kunkler for her leadership of the RAG, Volunteering and Sustainability Network and a volunteering award recognising Shivali Sharma’s work with Nightline. The Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group won the Campaigns Award and the BME Network the Equality and Diversity Award.

It is inspirational to learn more about the contribution students make to the lives of their fellow students and the wider university. The winner of the Education Award, Sally Emerson has been Faculty of Science UG Rep and Chair of the Education Network during 2018-19 and Ed Southgate and Cameron Scheijde have edited Epigram, earning them the Student Media Award. Of course, staff too were recognised including Robiu Salisu with the University Staff Member Award for his work as BAME Student Inclusion Officer and Monica Pacek from the SU for her contribution to student engagement. Finally, the collaboration award went to the amazing East meets West initiative and the sports club of the year award to Women’s Football.

The event was hosted by the outgoing Sabbatical Officer team and their fellow student leaders – with Oscar ceremony levels of glamour but better speeches. Thank so much to the SU for hosting the event and inviting me to attend – and a huge well done to all the winners and nominees.

The 2019 Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey – why it’s important and what we’ve been doing since last year.

Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience)

By Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience).

Young adults today are more likely to experience mental health problems than previous generations and around three in four adults who experience a mental illness will have symptoms before the age of 25[1].

Bristol takes its commitment to these issues very seriously and last year introduced an institution-wide Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey in partnership with the Bristol SU. The survey was responded to by over 5,700 students, making it one of the largest pieces of research into student mental health in the UK. It deepened our understanding of the issues affecting Bristol students and gave us valuable insight on how the support we provide is viewed.

The responses to the Survey in 2018 helped shape the University’s new Student Mental Health and  Wellbeing Strategy which outlines the work we’ll be doing to improve support for our students’ mental health and wellbeing. We’ve already began to implement some of the work highlighted in the strategy and hope the responses to this year’s Student Mental Health and Wellbeing survey will tell us if we’re on the right track – and inform us of what we can do better if not.

The survey for 2019 is now open and students can complete it at SMHW 2019.

Offering enough support to students is a must for any University. Keeping the channels open between us and our student community for conversation is essential to ensure that support is not only on offer, but right for them. The annual Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey is one such channel that provides our students an opportunity to have a confidential and frank discussion about what we offer and how we can continue to improve.

Last year’s findings have already done a huge amount towards our understanding of what our students are experiencing and their expectations. I hope this year’s findings will be equally insightful.


Here’s what we have done so far since last year’s survey.

Student wellbeing

Bristol students reported issues with their wellbeing, and one in four students said they didn’t have someone to talk to about their day-to-day problems.

Our Residential Life and Student Wellbeing Services are now providing 24/7 support for student wellbeing in residences and schools; helping students to manage their wellbeing proactively and ensuring there’s always someone to speak to for additional information, advice and support. We’ve also worked with Bristol SU to deliver the Bristol SU Living Room in Senate House; a space to relax, unwind and connect with other students whilst on campus.

Mental health

More than one in three Bristol students have experienced a diagnosed mental health problem at some point in their lives, and 80% of students with a mental health problem have seen a doctor since beginning University.

Additional University funding enables our Students’ Health Service to provide extended same day GP mental health appointments, and specialist support for students who have complex mental health conditions that require longer term psychological intervention. We’ve also increased the funding of our Mental Health Advice Team who support students with enduring mental health conditions to manage their healthcare needs alongside their studies.

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