Developing resilience in higher education: a new toolkit for Student Services

01 February 2018 09:39 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Today AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation launches the resilience toolkit: an open, online resource bank of research, case studies and practical tools to help Student Services professionals in higher education develop student resilience to stress, anxiety and similar barriers to achievement and success.

The toolkit advocates a positive and proactive approach to student resilience, focusing on what higher education providers can do to develop supportive, enabling cultures for students by making improvements to their physical and social environment.

The project was made possible by funding from Unite Students, the UK’s largest manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation, who are driven to provide a ‘Home For Success’ for almost 50,000 students across the UK. It builds on the theoretical model published in their Student Resilience: Exploring the positive case for resilience report (May 2017), which explores the positive case for resilience.

What’s in the toolkit?

The resilience toolkit is a practical and educational resource, drawing on publicly available materials from around the world, to help Student Services professionals develop new strategies and approaches underpinned by research, and to learn from others’ experiences.

The resources are grouped into three key approaches to developing student resilience, which arose from the research into student resilience by Unite Students:

  • Emotional control - use these resources to help students control their emotional responses to the negative experiences they may encounter academically or socially while studying.
  • Self-management - use these resources to help students develop self-management techniques for dealing with stress, anxiety and the pressures of higher education.
  • Social integration / networks / relationships - use these resources to help students feel integrated, develop their social networks and relationships, and get involved with different networks, communities and extra-curricular activities.

You can find the resources you want by exploring one of these approaches, or by searching for key words to identify the type of resource (for example, case study, research report, intervention tool, learning material), or subject (for example, mental health, careers, accommodation).

A positive approach to resilience

AMOSSHE and Unite Students acknowledge that the concept of resilience is a hotly contested one, at least in the way it applies to students studying in higher education, and must be treated with caution. Our stance is that the term must not, in any way, be used to label students or place abject judgements or limitations on their abilities. Rather, our exploration of resilience relates more closely to the environment we provide for our students, both social and physical, and how that supports students to achieve their potential.

So the toolkit advocates a positive, proactive approach to resilience, rather than a deficit model. Higher education providers can do a great deal to develop a supportive and enabling culture for their students, by making improvements to their physical and social environment. The toolkit is designed to assist and enable that aim.

The project dovetails with Universities UK’s #stepchange strategy to adopt mental health as a strategic priority in higher education, and reflects a whole-university approach, in that the toolkit features resources to support staff and student resilience alike.

A living resource

The resilience toolkit is designed to be a living resource bank that grows as more resources become available. As the number of resources increases, areas of professional expertise will develop too (for example, resilience in careers, building resilience in accommodation). AMOSSHE will continue to add resources to the toolkit from across the UK and international student support sectors - you can subscribe to get an update every time we add something new.

Do you have a practical tool, research, or a case study to contribute? If so, please get in touch on by clicking ‘contribute’ at the top of the toolkit. And please leave your comments, and share what you find with colleagues across the sector.

Find out more

Find out more about the toolkit, check out the resources, and contribute to the project, here:

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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