Here's the latest news from AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation.
Here's the AMOSSHE bulletin for autumn 2022: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 2.5 MB).
In this bulletin meet the members of our AMOSSHE Executive team who were elected this year, and find out about their aims for our professional association.
Also, find out about our work this autumn to share good practice and research in tackling sexual harassment and misconduct, and working more effectively with NHS services.
The bulletin also features updates from AMOSSHE's annual sponsors, whose support helps us deliver our programme of work and who help keep us in touch with developments and research in the sector.
The health and wellbeing of students and staff is a top priority for UK universities. Members of AMOSSHE The Student Services Organisation are deeply committed to supporting any student who is struggling with their mental health through the provision of a wide range of services. At the same time, however, it is essential that students and their supporters are clear about the boundaries of what universities can and cannot provide, and that students receive appropriate specialist care from the NHS should they need it.
Universities are already subject to health and safety regulations, duties under the Equality Act 2010 and section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and duties around the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Therefore AMOSSHE does not believe that an additional statutory duty of care on universities is necessary. Given the need for professional NHS support for students presenting with diagnosed and emerging mental health conditions, it is our view that increased funding for student mental health services in the NHS is a greater priority than an additional duty of care on universities.
Universities prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and students by adhering to a range of guidance and sector best practice and providing a wide range of support services, including mental health, counselling, wellbeing and study support for those experiencing difficulties, and work closely with NHS services to ensure that students are referred to the appropriate services to ensure the best outcome for their care.
AMOSSHE The Student Services Organisation welcomes the guidance published by Universities UK about sharing information with trusted contacts when there are serious concerns about a student’s safety or mental health (Suicide-safer universities: sharing information with trusted contacts). AMOSSHE was pleased to be part of the advisory group that developed the guidance. It is our view that the guidance, which is not mandatory, provides a useful framework to assist higher education providers review their current procedures and policies to support students in crisis and those who are experiencing a decline in mental health.
We believe that a student’s support network can play a pivotal role in their wellbeing. However, the choice of our adult students should always be at the heart of decisions about their wellbeing and we recognise that it is not always appropriate for a student’s family to be contacted in the event of a crisis. Therefore, we welcome the recommendation to identify a trusted contact of a student’s choosing. We strongly support university staff undertaking a risk assessment in the event of a crisis to ascertain whether contacting a trusted contact is the most appropriate and safest action to take.
AMOSSHE members are committed to supporting students to the best of our abilities within the bounds of our remit, which includes working with all relevant stakeholders including GPs, NHS services and students’ supporters to manage their health and wellbeing.
AMOSSHE is proud to announce our full programme of professional development events for the 2022/23 academic year. These are designed to support the work of Student Services leaders in higher education, focusing on a range of topics informed by member feedback and shaped by the AMOSSHE Executive team.
You can browse the whole programme to choose which events best suit your needs and the professional development budgets for you and your teams. You can book for all the events and pay by credit card or invoice (except for the AMOSSHE National Conference 2023 - booking for that opens soon).
Discounted rates are available for all named AMOSSHE members. If you're not a named member but you're interested in attending more than one event, you may be able to save money by becoming an AMOSSHE member. Find out more about membership.
See all events
This in-person event discusses supporting students in cases of sexual harassment, violence or misconduct. Focusing on how Student Services respond when cases arise, the event explores case study examples of current good practice, sector guidance, and what we can all do differently to improve.
Find out more
This in-person event explores working relationships between Student Services and statutory health services, as well as other sector partners, particularly in relation to student mental health. Discover research and case studies about forging pathways and relationships with NHS services around the UK, as well as sector-wide initiatives and alternative collaborations with local partners.
Supporting students in the context of the rising cost of living is a key priority for Student Services leaders. This free event offers a showcase of how third-party partners, products and services can help you support students by enhancing and developing your institution’s service provision. Find out how partner organisations can assist your efforts to mitigate the impact of the rising cost of living on your students’ experiences.
This in-person conference explores how to deliver high-quality services in response to high demand and high expectations. Student Services are always working under pressure and evolving to respond to new challenges, so how can we best manage and respond to the impact of increasing demand, continue to deliver while managing risk and expectations, and equip our staff to cope?
This professional development webinar explores how to prepare yourself for the next stage of your Student Services career journey, whether that’s taking on a higher level role, an expanding remit, or moving sideways into a new area.
This online event explores how to join the dots between professional services, academic colleagues and other stakeholders to create more inclusive learning environments for disabled students. Join us to learn from student experiences and case studies of good practice, and take part in discussions about challenges and opportunities in this area.
This online event explores how to support our students and communities after a student or staff member dies as a result of suicide. This event is an opportunity to learn about recent sector guidance on postvention, discuss case studies of good practice, and share experiences of postvention support. The event also explores how postvention work can feed into suicide prevention and response planning.
This three day, in-person conference is the UK’s foremost opportunity for Student Services leaders to share expertise and good practice, develop strategy and skills, and build professional networks.
Look out for more more details about the conference, including the prices and call for session proposals, coming soon.
The AMOSSHE community extends its deepest condolences to the Royal Family following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen has been a figurehead for this country for more than 70 years and has tirelessly dedicated her life in service, she will be deeply mourned by so many.
Throughout her reign she has been a great friend to the higher education sector and visited numerous universities across the UK. She was an ardent supporter of the value of higher education through her patronage of The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for over three decades, she was a patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and promoted the impacts of higher and further education for students, communities, the economy and wider society.
Our thoughts and sympathies are with the Royal Family at this time of deep sadness and loss, she will be missed.
Information relating to public events and official proceedings following the Queen’s death will be updated on the Royal Family website, including an online book of condolence.
Here's the AMOSSHE bulletin for summer 2022: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 3.1 MB).
In this bulletin watch our review of AMOSSHE's strategic progress during the 2021/22 academic year, and learn more about our plans for the year ahead.
Also, take a look at some of the pictures from the AMOSSHE National Conference in Newcastle this July, and find out about our upcoming professional development events.
At today's AMOSSHE Annual General Meeting, Simon Lee (AMOSSHE Vice Chair) announced the results of our recent Executive elections. Every year six roles become available on the AMOSSHE Executive Committee, and members have the opportunity to nominate themselves to join the team. The final candidates were chosen by a membership ballot.
The elected members, who will serve for the 2022 to 2024 term of office, are as follows:
Also, four Executive Members were elected:
Simon welcomed all the new members to the Executive team, and congratulated those who have been re-elected. He also thanked all the candidates for their commitment to AMOSSHE. The new Executive team will assume their roles from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2024.
The Executive team also gave their thanks to Nic Streatfield, who has left his role as Vice Chair (Professional Development), and Kelsey Coward, who has left the Executive as well. Many thanks to them for all their hard work and dedication to AMOSSHE over many years!
Here are the nomination statements from everyone who takes a role on the AMOSSHE Executive this year. These are personal statements about their intentions and why they're right for the roles:
Helen McNeely (Head of Student and Academic Affairs, Queen's University Belfast) takes the role of Vice Chair (Operations). Here’s Helen’s nomination statement.
I have worked in higher education for 25 years across three institutions, and more recently (for the last 14 years) at Queen's University Belfast. I have been actively involved in AMOSSHE throughout my career, more recently for the last number of years on the Executive Committee. Bringing a regional voice is essential to ensuring that as an organisation we continue to have an integrated approach to student support services in an increasingly fragmented sector. I would therefore welcome the chance to continue on the Executive to ensure that regions continue to have a voice. While my more recent time on the Executive has focused on supporting the National Office, I bring a lot of experience in relation to leading professional development and conference events that help our membership in their day-to-day work. I would also like to continue my work representing our membership on the UCEA Health and Safety Committee, where there has been an increasing focus on the impact of student wellbeing on staff in the sector. I would also help deliver the professionalisation project that was first approved at AMOSSHE's annual general meeting in July 2019, and I see it as a key tool to help us as a sector ensure our workforce is competitive and recognised for the valuable contribution that we make to higher education.
As the Vice Chair (Operations) I would welcome the opportunity to pick up some of the strategic work the National Office was asked to put on hold during the pandemic. In that sense I would like to see through what we had committed to do when I last stood for election three years ago, in terms of building the capacity of the National Office to support the work of the AMOSSHE strategy. Working with the National Office has been a pleasure and I enjoy supporting such a dynamic and creative team. I trust that in my role as the Vice Chair (Operations) I am able to support and enable the team to ensure that we have robust systems to support the infrastructure of AMOSSHE, as well as the creativity to put in action the decisions of the membership and the Executive Committee. If I am re-elected as the Vice Chair (Operations) I will continue to help grow the organisation to keep pace with the level and profile we are working at within the sector.
Chris Warrington (Head of Student Support, University of Leeds) takes the role of Vice Chair (Professional Development). Here's Chris’s nomination statement.
My priorities for the Vice Chair (Professional Development) role are to:
My commitment to AMOSSHE will drive my dedication to serving the AMOSSHE community in the role of Vice Chair (Professional Development). I have over 20 years' experience of higher education, in several roles, and this experience and focus on the student experience will be channelled into the role. My approach is collaborative, with partnership working and the student voice at the core of my practice. It would be a privilege to take on the role of Vice Chair (Professional Development) to enhance the continued impact that the AMOSSHE community has on our universities and students.
I have been an active and committed member of the AMOSSHE Executive since 2017 and I have worked hard to champion the huge impact that our Student Services community of professionals makes to the student experience. As a member of the AMOSSHE Executive, I have contributed significantly to the aims of AMOSSHE and its members and provided leadership in a number of areas. As Vice Chair (Professional Development) I hope to have the opportunity to curate, in collaboration with the membership and the Executive, our CPD (continuing professional development) programme to continue to meet the needs of members both in terms of the key issues and challenges we face, and our own professional development as individuals and as a community.
Examples of my contribution to the AMOSSHE Executive include:
As Head of Student Support at the University of Leeds, like many of the AMOSSHE members, I am responsible for the framework of support across the university including disability, mental health and wellbeing services, along with international student support and enquiry handling at the university.
Rotimi Akinsete (Director of Student Welfare and Support Services, University of Oxford) takes the role of Executive Member. Here's Rotimi’s nomination statement.
My name is Rotimi Akinsete and I am Director of Student Welfare & Support Services at the University of Oxford.
I have previously sat as an AMOSSHE Executive Member and am re-applying because I would like to again work alongside supportive and committed colleagues to continue its mission at the cutting edge of Student Services operations and strategy.
My career started with a stint working with Looked After Children in children's homes. I later moved into higher education, initially as an advisor in a university Students' Union and then as the service manager. This was followed by progression in roles as Student Funding Manager and Head of Student Guidance within the same institution.
After qualifying as a therapeutic counsellor I took up a role leading local young people's community mental health services for an NHS Trust and returned to higher education five years later, this time in a campus-based university where I led a Wellbeing Directorate comprised of a multidisciplinary team of counsellors, psychotherapists, mental health nurses, wellbeing advisors, the University Chaplaincy and the University Medical Centre. Since that time, I have held senior Student Services positions in two other world-renowned higher education providers.
In addition to my 25 years of higher education management experience, I continue to practice in my spare time as a counsellor, clinical supervisor, facilitator, trainer and advisor, and have won a national award for my work in race relations. I also facilitate a number of community projects to encourage underrepresented groups to enter the talking therapy professions, and have written a book on men's mental health for Mind, the mental health charity.
If elected as an Executive Member, I hope that I can again contribute constructively and creatively to the AMOSSHE cause, by using my extensive knowledge and experience in the sector, and my representation of various interest groups, to assist AMOSSHE in continuing its mission of providing a progressive network of support, research and professional development to its members.
Ravteg Singh Dhesi (Director of Student Welfare, Aston University) takes the role of Executive Member. Here's Ravteg’s nomination statement.
It would be a privilege to volunteer for the AMOSSHE Executive Committee.
Having worked in higher education for over eleven years - specifically within student services - I am currently the Director of Student Welfare at Aston University, a role I have held since October 2021. I oversee several student-facing services, including Mental Health & Wellbeing; Counselling; Disability & Academic Support; Residential Experience and Support (Accommodation); and the Chaplaincy. Prior to this role, I was based in London with a focus on Residential Life and welfare support. I have developed a keen interest in / taken institutional lead of provision for care experienced and estranged students, safeguarding, Prevent and support for victims of sexual violence.
AMOSSHE has played a vitally important part in my professional development, even more so in recent years as I have taken on more responsibility in my career. I have benefited tremendously from the counsel, guidance, and wisdom of colleagues and continue to do so. Despite the many challenges, we are fortunate to work in a sector that encourages collaboration and friendship. Many friendships with colleagues across the country have started with an email or telephone call to ask a question. There is so much more that we can do to actively support our members and share the wealth of experience that we have - be that in sharing best practice in facing the similar challenges that we all face, or broadening the diversity of our sector and encouraging young professionals to join this wonderful profession.
Should I be fortunate to be elected to the Executive Committee, my focus would be on three key areas:
Sammy Li (Adviser on Student Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, University of Birmingham) takes the role of Executive Member. Here's Sammy’s nomination statement.
I am standing for re-election as an AMOSSHE Executive Member to continue contributing to our community of Student Services leaders.
I have been actively involved at AMOSSHE over the past five years. In 2021/22, I have been honoured to speak on behalf of AMOSSHE at Universities UK, NADP (National Association of Disability Practitioners), and IGPP (Institute of Government and Public Policy) conferences on the latest sectoral issues. Also, I represent AMOSSHE at the Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University to develop recommendations at a national level to improve the inclusivity of student accommodation.
Moreover, I co-hosted AMOSSHE's first in-person event since COVID as an Executive Member. I utilised my professional network to bring in six speakers from the UK and overseas for the CPD (continuing professional development) day, exploring how to make services responsive to the cultural diversity of our students and develop an inclusive workplace culture in Student Services.
As an AMOSSHE membership engagement lead, I have contributed to new initiatives such as the Faces of AMOSSHE and members' discussion forum, to help celebrate the AMOSSHE community, to diversify our sectoral pipeline, and to broaden participation as a membership organisation. I am also currently working on a new AMOSSHE EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) policy and an inclusive AMOSSHE event checklist to underpin AMOSSHE's principles of inclusion, equality of opportunity, and respect for diversity.
It is paramount for AMOSSHE, as the Student Services Organisation, to recognise the diverse needs of students and members from institutions across the UK and abroad. Coming from a first-generation higher education background, the sector has offered me a life-changing opportunity. AMOSSHE has also been a tremendously supportive community for enabling my transition from an academic role to Student Services leadership. I would be honoured if I could have your support to allow me to contribute more to this community, and for me to learn more from fellow Student Services colleagues.
Sarah Sweeney (Head of Student Support and Wellbeing, Lancaster University) takes the role of Executive Member. Here's Sarah’s nomination statement.
I've been a member of the AMOSSHE Executive Committee for the last year and I have really enjoyed being able to contribute to the wonderful work of AMOSSHE!
AMOSSHE plays an essential role in supporting colleagues across the sector to connect, problem solve and learn from each other, and to influence change in the sector through joint working.
I have personally found the help and support of the AMOSSHE network invaluable, and experienced the benefits first-hand of sharing knowledge with colleagues at other institutions to drive forward change and develop and implement best practice. For example, supporting development of my institution's student suicide prevention policy and taking forward improvements to our safeguarding policies and procedures.
I am genuinely committed to AMOSSHE and if elected to continue on the Executive Committee, my priorities would also be:
Here's the AMOSSHE bulletin for spring 2022: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 1.7 MB).
In this bulletin we've got news about AMOSSHE's collaborative work with other sector organisations to enhance support for student mental health and wellbeing.
Also, find out about the keynote speakers at our National Conference in July, and some of the hot topics and emerging challenges that our members have been discussing this spring.
AMOSSHE has joined a consortium of organisations appointed by the Office for Students to help universities and colleges identify and make use of effective practice in supporting student mental health. This work will lead to the creation of an online hub to share what works to support student mental health.
TASO (Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education) is leading the project, and AMOSSHE is contributing expertise along with a range of organisations, including What Works Wellbeing, Universities UK, SMaRteN, and Student Minds.
John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students, said:
“Students have experienced an especially difficult time through the pandemic. It is crucial that they continue to receive the right mental health support as universities and colleges return to normal.
“The Office for Students has provided a range of funding and resources to support student mental health, and this national programme will help us to better identify what works best. I am delighted that we have appointed this TASO-led consortium, with the organisations involved having significant expertise in understanding what works best to support students. Students will be consulted through this work, to ensure their views are taken into account.”
Find out more: TASO to lead work to develop 'what works’ resources of student mental health support.
A collaborative working group of AMOSSHE Wales, NUS (National Union of Students) Wales, Universities Wales, and ColegauCymru has published a set of policy recommendations designed to further improve mental health services in Welsh colleges and universities.
The working group was set up to develop some key principles for Welsh Government to consider embedding in mental health and wellbeing policy for students in post-16 education. The recommendations have a strong focus on prevention, early intervention and greater connection between agencies.
The recommendations include prioritising investment in mental health, service redesign promoting a ‘no wrong door’ approach to mental health support, and a call for education and statutory health services to work in partnership to protect students’ mental health.
The recommendations are based around a set of key principles including:
Read the recommendations here: Good Practice Case Studies: Post-16 Mental Health Services.
Hefin David MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Universities, said:
“When the Cross Party Group on Universities discussed student health and well-being we saw positive examples of the work delivered by colleges and universities across Wales, while also gaining a clear sense of the scale of the need.
“I’m pleased to see the Cross Party Group’s conversations led to the delivery of this work with the higher and further education sector coming together to identify opportunities for improvement in the provision of mental health support for students across Wales.
“It is essential that education and health care providers are able to work together to support students, and the Cross Party Group on Universities will continue to advocate for Welsh Government’s backing in this important area.”
Ben Lewis, Chair of AMOSSHE Wales said:
“University student support professionals are an important part of the partnerships we need to grow to provide the best possible opportunities and outcomes for students in Wales. These policy recommendations represent an opportunity to create a new approach as we move beyond the pandemic.
“We know demand and expectation is high and increasing. This provides a direction for us to work together with government, the NHS, funders and other partners to take action now to address this.”
Becky Ricketts, NUS Wales President, said:
“Students face a unique mix of pressures on their well-being, so it’s important that on-campus and NHS mental health services can work together to deliver a range of interventions. These recommendations, developed by the sector in partnership with students from across post-16 education, have the potential to boost existing services in universities and colleges, embed good practice across the sector, and make Wales a standard-bearer on student mental health.
“It’s important that student mental health services continue to be backed by long-term funding to make sure that no matter who you are or where you study in Wales, you have access to timely and tailored mental health and well-being support throughout your entire education journey.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Chair of Universities Wales said:
“The health and wellbeing of students is a top priority for universities in Wales, and these principles, if implemented, can play an important role in ensuring that students get the support they need at the right time and in the right way.
This is an important example of collaboration across post-16 education of the type that the Tertiary Education and Research Bill hopes to encourage. We will continue to work in close partnership with our colleagues across tertiary education, and with statutory health services, to deliver a proactive approach to keeping students mentally healthy.”
ColegauCymru Active Wellbeing Group Chair Simon Pirotte said:
“This is an important piece of work where key players in post-16 provision in Wales have come together to tackle head on some of the challenges facing our post-16 learners. We look forward to working with the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Welsh Government to progress this agenda.”
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AMOSSHE members can find even more news, plus sector and policy updates
AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.