Michael Priestley explains why universities should pay more attention to improving students’ social lives
Social integration, inclusion and belonging are imperative to student wellbeing and learning. Yet students regularly experience challenges and barriers to forming positive social relationships at university. These barriers matter—and universities can do something about them.
Even prior to the pandemic, social isolation and loneliness were significant challenges for universities, with students twice as likely to report feeling lonely as the general population. Social distancing brought in to deal with Covid-19 exacerbated the problem, with students becoming even more isolated and lonely than before and compared with other population demographics, despite an increase in digital socialisation. In addition, the student groups that were already at greatest risk of isolation and exclusion, such as international or disabled students, became even more so.