4 June 2021

For over a year, we’ve been in the middle of a pandemic with big consequences. Many are struggling, and an important demographic that is affected by the pandemic are students. Caring Universities is a collaborative project between the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Maastricht en Universiteit Utrecht. The project aims to provide clarity on the mental wellbeing of students of these four universities and offer them tools to work on their wellbeing in an easy way.

Student welfare is an important topic on the agenda of the universities. That is why we work even harder to during the corona crisis to offer support to students. From the second annual study of the Caring Universities project that was conducted in January 2021, it appears that students suffer more from psychological complaints such as anxiety, stress, and mood complaints than during the first wave of the pandemic in June 2020. They also indicate to experience problems from the pandemic and the measures taken in terms of study progress and mental health. Exactly how much more students suffer is unclear due to several limitations from the research results.

For example, the response rate was low (approximately 9.6 percent). Moreover, the students that filled in the survey were mostly Dutch (70%). It’s important to know that the results are probably not representative for all students and have to be interpreted with care. Despite these limitations, all universities take this signal very seriously and are looking for ways to continuously support their students. Caring Universities is doing this by offering an online programme that specifically focuses on the consequences of the corona crisis for students and can help students to deal with these consequences by increasing their resilience. This programme includes topics such as dealing with loneliness, regaining routine, staying physically active and dealing with negative thoughts. These interventions are guided by specially trained e-coaches.

Caring Universities currently offers three other online eHealth programs already, which are easily accessible and anonymous under the guidance of an e-health coach. Students are offered tools to get started with working on mood complaints, reducing stress and combatting procrastination. The programmes are rated well under students: 80 percent indicated being (very) satisfied with the modules that Caring Universities offers. Shortly Caring University will expand the programmes they offer to include topics such as improving sleep, increasing well-being, and dealing with pressure to perform.

More information on the first results

Download the 2021 report (in Dutch)

Download the 2020 report (in Dutch)