79 Views

January blues hits students hard

Leicester University has published the results of a three-year longitudinal study looking at the way students experience their time in higher education. The study has highlighted high levels of January blues after students return from their Christmas holidays.

The results come from an analysis of two years of video diaries compiled by 40 undergraduates at Leicester University. The students were asked to film at least 5 minutes a week talking about things in their university life which mattered to them. This was the only direction given, a factor which Professor Annette Cashmore, director of the university’s Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Genetics, claimed was criti­cal in ensuring the importance of the data collected.

“There are a lot of video diary projects being done, but I’m not sure they tell you much more than what you’re guiding the subjects to talk about,” she said. “We gave first years a video camera, but then no other instruction except that we wanted at least five minutes of footage a week about anything that was important to them.”

Cashmore argues that, while you would expect high anxiety levels in students moving away to university in their first term, the research team was surprised by a spike of anxiety levels amongst students returning from home after Christmas.

“There were some really heartfelt videos that discussed things we hadn’t really appreciated the impact of,” she explains.

“One student talked about leaving her boyfriend at home, and when it got to Christmas she was nervous because of going back to a life she’d moved on from.

“Once home, it was hard getting back into the relationship with her boyfriend. And then when she arrived back at uni­versity, it was difficult, she said, to get back into friendships there because they hadn’t been made for very long.”

Other students discussed concerns about exams which they were to sit in early January and which they did not feel ready for after the Christmas break.

A second-year Sussex student agreed; “It’s so hard to revise over the holidays and a month off is too long. It takes so long to get back up to speed, you’ve missed half the term before you’re ready to start it.”

A second Sussex MA student also agreed; “I hated coming back after the holidays to a cold house and without my family. There was this mass of work which I hadn’t done and what seemed like no time to do it in.”

While some may see these as transito­ry concerns (an individual will certainly have to deal with more in their life than a cold house and a long holiday), Cashmore considers the study can have important practical applications. The central point of the study, she argues, is to discover what prompts students to drop out of university and how best to support them so they don’t.

35,000 students in England every year drop out of their degree courses. Not only is it expensive and demoral­ising for students, it also reflects badly on the Universities they studied at. In 2007-8 the University of Sussex’s drop out figures were 2.9%, one of the lowest in the country and well below the national average. Nonetheless, it is unsurprising that HE managers are keen to find ways of helping undergraduates successfully weather the pressures of studying at University level. A study looking at the reasons students dropped out showed a third said they didn’t enjoy university life, while only 8% cited debt as an issue.

One Sussex student said; “It will be interesting to see if our low drop out rates increase now university management want to scrap all our student support.”

Recurring themes in Cashmore’s video diaries include worries over set­tling into new accommodation, coping with new personal relationships and adapting to new styles of teaching and learning, and these do not end with the end of first year.

As a result of these findings, Leicester has committed to putting in place support for students at strategic times in their courses. These include Podcasts with advice for Freshers on how to negotiate their first University experience, how to deal with post-Christmas exam stress and what to expect with the increasing pressures of second and third years.

The university is also considering moving its first set of first-year exams so that students aren’t hit with tests while barely yet recovered from their new year hang¬over.

“When students first come to uni, there are lots of things put on to support them, such as mentoring and meeting with personal tutors, but it’s not just in October that it’s needed, it’s needed in January, too,” says Cashmore. “It’s not about mollycoddling the students – it’s about recognising the stressful elements that do occur in doing a degree.”

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
285 views1
Campus News
285 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
15 views
Arts
15 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
21 views
Arts
21 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
75 views
Artist Focus
75 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
51 views
Interview
51 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
106 views
Arts
106 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
103 views
Arts
103 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
122 views
Arts
122 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
100 views
Artist Focus
100 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
83 views
Books
83 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
115 views
Science
115 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
169 views
News
169 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS
Comment
161 views
Comment
161 views

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS

Sarah McIntosh - May 2, 2018

The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea…

Student research happening at Sussex
Features
138 views
Features
138 views

Student research happening at Sussex

Nikolaos Manesis - May 1, 2018

(Image source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikipedia) Another academic year is coming to a close and with it, the last edition of The Badger. To celebrate our last science…

Sussex Festival cancelled
Campus News
205 views
Campus News
205 views

Sussex Festival cancelled

Jordan Wright - April 30, 2018

The Students’ Union have cancelled their highly anticipated end-of-term event Sussex Festival: Desert Island Disco, which was due to begin on Saturday May 12th. The Students’ Union…

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event
Comment
225 views
Comment
225 views

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

These comment pieces represent the opinions of both the Students' Union and Liberate the Debate with regards to the  recent cancellation of the Society's freedom of speech…

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
141 views
Artist Focus
141 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
101 views
Artist Focus
101 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
126 views
Arts
126 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
128 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…