Summary Report for Student Health and Wellbeing Project

Charlie Roberts*, Declan Ryan, Jackie Campbell, Jack Hardwicke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportTechnical Report


Attending university marks a significant period in many peoples’ lives. This is often a period characterised by greater autonomy in decision making, new social influences and peer networks, exposure to novel stressors, increased levels of independence and, for many university students, the requirement to self-manage their overall lifestyle. Importantly, the transition can result in behaviour and environment changes that can cause adverse health outcomes for many young adults (Deliens et al., 2015). These adverse health outcomes may include poor mental health (Auerbach et al., 2018; Lipson et al., 2019), decreased physical activity [PA] (Vella-Zarb & Elgar, 2009), increased sedentary behaviours (Castro et al., 2020), disrupted sleep patterns (Russel et al., 2019), sub-optimal dietary behaviours (Tanton et al., 2015), weight gain (de Vos et al., 2015), elevated alcohol consumption (Wicki et al., 2010) and elevated rates of substance misuse (Bogowicz et al., 2018). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in a decrease in mental well-being, physical activity engagement and an increase in stress and perceived time spent sedentary in UK university students (Savage et al, 2021). Collectively, the literature suggests that university student populations often have unique health challenges compared to the general population.

In the academic year 2021/22, a total of 2.86 million people were registered at a higher education institution in the United Kingdom (U.K) (House of Commons Library, 2023). This represented approximately 4.2% of the UK population and due to the university setting having unique risk factors for the development of health-negating behaviours, the health of university students is a contemporary and important public health issue. Despite this, there is limited research on health-related behaviours and the inter-relationships between these hazardous behaviours in this population. Therefore, this project aimed to provide initial insight into student behaviours as a first step to identify further lines of enquiry to co-produce solutions to enhance student health behaviours and subsequent university experience both socially and academically. This research aligns to the University of Northampton strategic plan ‘Transforming Lives + Inspiring Change’ via contributing to all three of the core elements: Super Supportive, Future Focused and Social Impact. Notably, the project is aligned with the universities aim to be ‘Super Supportive’ by recognising the student journey holistically and focusing on health and wellbeing of our students outside of just academic concerns. Furthermore, the University of Northampton aims to address numerous of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, and this research project directly contributes towards SDG3 “Good Health and Well-being” (University of Northampton, 2023). This research is locally focused but has the potential to be scaled up nationally.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNorthampton
PublisherUniversity of Northampton
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023


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