Oxford University skyline through the trees
Oxford University skyline through the trees

Student Welfare and Support Services reports reflect increased demand for support in 2021/22

New reports from the University’s welfare services reveal insights into the experiences of students using Oxford’s Counselling, Disability Advisory and Sexual Harassment and Violence Support services during the 2021-22 academic year. 

In 2021/22, 3,595 students (13.8% of the student body) sought counselling, up from 3,440 students (13.5%) seen in the previous academic year. In-person provision returned to the Student Welfare offices in September 2021. Anxiety remained the largest presenting issue for Oxford students, increasing from 30.9% in 2020/21 to 33.7% in 21/22. This figure has doubled since 2018 and reflects reports of increased anxiety in the general population, and particularly in young adults, during the pandemic. 42% of students were seen in fewer than 5 working days, compared with 35.2% in 2020/21, despite increased demands on the service.

The demand for the Disability Advisory Service (DAS) continued to rise, with more than a quarter (26.5%) of the total Oxford student population known to the Service (up from 24.3% in 2020/21). Students with long-term mental health conditions remained the highest proportion of DAS users, accounting for 5% of the total student population. At the end of 2021/22, Student Support Plans, which provide personalised recommendations for individual support, were in place for almost two-thirds of DAS users (64.7%) and 17% of the total Oxford student population. The University’s first Educational Recordings Policy, which recognises the role of recordings in making teaching more inclusive for disabled students, was published.

The Sexual Violence and Harassment Support Service saw the biggest increase in use – up 17.9% on last year (263 referrals). The Service was particularly in demand during Michaelmas term (over 60% higher than the same period the previous year), as students returned to a pre-pandemic approach to teaching and learning. Support was predominantly sought in relation to serious sexual crimes (rape, sexual assault and stalking), which accounted for 75% of the casework. Sexual harassment accounted for 5% of referrals. In addition to online consent training for all students a full review of consent training across the collegiate University was completed, with a pilot scheme introduced for Michaelmas 2022.

Rotimi Akinsete, Director of Student Welfare and Support Services, said, ‘In 2021/22 we continued to see increased demand for the SWSS across the board, and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on our students’ wellbeing and mental health.

My colleagues and I were pleased to be able to return to in-person services and encouraged to see that SWSS continue to play a key role in supporting so many of our student body during their time at Oxford.

As ever there is work to be done, and we continue to look to how we can improve the support services on offer, to ensure that they are delivering the best provision for our students’.