STUDENTS in Wales are significantly less happy than those elsewhere in the UK, a new survey has revealed.

The results of the 2022 Student Academic Experience Survey were published last week by thinktanks the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Advance HE.

Although 35 per cent of respondents overall ranked their studies as “good” or “very good” when it came to value for money – a significant increase from the previous year, when this was 27 per cent – the picture around mental health was less positive.

Of the more than 400 participants who said they lived in Wales, only 10 per cent answered a question asking how “happy with life” they are with nine or ten out of ten. This, according to Advance HE’s Insights Team, is “significantly lower” than all other areas of the UK apart from Scotland, with 13 per cent overall scoring nine or ten on the same question.

Across the UK as a whole, one in four students said they felt lonely most or all of the time. This is significantly higher than the wider population, where, according to Office for National Statistics data, this is one in 20.

Wales’ branch of the National Union of Students (NUS) has previously warned that students are “at a higher risk of developing mental health problems than the general population”.

The organisation has put this down to factors such as living away from home, as well as study-induced stress. It has also warned that this may have been exacerbated by the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and has called for stronger links between schools, colleges and universities and NHS services, as well as longer-term healthcare planning.

Simon Jones, head of policy at mental health charity Mind Cymru, said: ‘We know that the past two years have been an extremely challenging time for young people across the country.

"In our most recent survey of over 650 people across Wales, nine in ten (90 per cent) 18-24 year olds said loneliness made their mental health worse, and more than two thirds (70 per cent) say their mental health has got worse since the first national lockdown."

Mr Jones added there are three key ways of managing mental and physical wellbeing while at university:

  • Having a good sleep routine;
  • Exercise and physical activity;
  • Eating healthy foods such as fresh fruit and veg, nuts and wholegrains, which release energy and boost concentration.​

Mental health support and advice for students is available via Mind’s Student Mental Health Hub.