Universities will be called on to dramatically improve their mental health offering for students, and will be awarded with a new recognition for meeting new mental health standards.

The Universities Minister Sam Gyimah will announce a new charter that will be developed in partnership with leading charities and Higher Education bodies, outlining the criteria that universities need to meet to gain the recognition, and will call on them to sign up to ‘avoid failing a generation of students’.

It comes on the day that he will host a student mental health summit at the University of the West of England. As part of a new package of measures announced by Sam Gyimah on student mental health:

The announcement of a University Mental Health Charter will see the development of new standards to promote student and staff mental health and wellbeing.
The set-up of a Department for Education-led working group into the transition students face when going to university, to ensure they have the right support, particularly in the critical in their first year transition.
Exploring whether an opt-in requirement for universities could be considered, so they could have permission to share information on student mental health with parents or a trusted person.

Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, will lead a partnership of organisations in the development of the charter. Partners will include the UPP Foundation, Office for Students (OfS), National Union of Students (NUS) and Universities UK.

The Charter’s development, which is supported by a £100,000 grant to Student Minds from the UPP Foundation, the registered charity founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), will recognise and reward those institutions that demonstrate making student and staff mental health a university-wide priority and deliver improved student mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

The working group looking at transitions will be based within the Department for Education and the work undertaken will be in tandem with the sector.

They will look at the role universities can play in the often difficult transition from school to university and becoming independent students. It will form a number of recommendations for schools, colleges and universities to adopt.

Sam Gyimah will also outline plans to explore opt-in requirements for universities could be considered, so they could have permission to share information on student mental health with parents or a trusted person.