UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Improving Student Lives survey

A collaboration with students, researchers and clinical leaders from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, NHS England, NatCen and the University of Sheffield, Improving Student Lives is funded by a Wellcome Trust strategic award to UCL.

In recent years online student surveys have become increasingly common. Whilst this is a welcome first step toward better understanding the scale of student mental health problems and the factors associated with them, online surveys have some methodological limitations.  

The Improving Student Lives study team brings together experts in mental health and experts in survey methods, to find out whether more robust survey methods are practical to use in universities.  

National Study of Health and Wellbeing (also known as the ‘Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey’) provides the best data we have on mental health problems in England. With our Student Steering Group, we have held a number of consultation exercises in order to adapt the National Study of Health and Wellbeing survey to the student population – removing questions that are not relevant to students and adding questions that are (e.g. about university life, or social media). We are also working to test an alternative method of sampling (i.e. directly contacting sampled students) to invite participants to take part.

Our aim with this project is to find out: 

  • Whether students find the survey acceptable (e.g. Do students feel comfortable being contacted and invited to take part? Do they feel comfortable answering the survey questions?)
  • Whether conducting this survey at scale would be feasible (i.e. is it practical in the university context?)