Responding to the release of the Liberal Democrats’ student mental health charter today, NUS’ Vice-President Eva Crossan Jory, commented: ‘NUS has been working with the sector in England and the Department for Health and Social Care on these issues and while we welcome the recognition we need to take action on student mental health, this Liberal Democrat proposal may duplicate existing work. We would urge the Liberal Democrats to engage with the sector in order that any changes achieve their intended outcomes.
Universities and colleges must break down barriers and provide support for students to engage with their education. Waiting times for support must be addressed, but comparatively poor waiting times may reflect failure of local NHS services due to underfunding. A decade of underfunding have left educational institutions supporting more than students’ education, but also their health: a programme of proper NHS funding is essential.
Our sector is diverse, and we should take care to ensure the Liberal Democrat regulatory approach does not penalise smaller institutions and college providers, or ones that actively support students with complex impairments. NUS also works across the UK: Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales where education and health are both devolved. In Scotland and Wales the regulatory approach is to drive excellence and support development, not apply punitive regulation to a sector in crisis.’