28,000 people sign the petition to include mental health in university rankings

‘For a uni to be recognised as the best in the country, it must provide the best mental health support’


Over 28,000 people have signed a petition calling for the leading UK university league tables to include mental health support services as part of their rankings.

The petition was created by mental health campaigner Ben West, with the aim to make university league tables cover mental health as a criterion in their surveys.

The petition comes as a response to the mental health crisis that is rampaging through the student population during the pandemic.

The Tab spoke to Ben, a mental health activist and LinkedIn changemaker about why he started the petition. Ben told The Tab that in many universities there is “a total disconnect between students needing the service and actually receiving the care they need” in terms of mental health support, and said the petition could be “transformational”.

He said: “Uni mental health services are being overwhelmed with high-risk patients whilst these students should be receiving help from the NHS. So, for all those students who are not considered high risk whilst still suffering from moderate mental health issues, they are unable to access the university’s mental health support.”

The petition has called for The Guardian, Times Higher Education and Complete University Guide to all include mental health support statistics in their future university rankings. The petition is quickly approaching 29,000 signatures and is gaining traction on Instagram.

At present Times Higher Education only considers teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook in its world rankings. Meanwhile, The Guardian considers the information gathered on the National Student Survey alongside staff to student ratios, entry standards, expenditure per student, continuation, and student satisfaction. However, at present student satisfaction is only determined by the following factors:

• Staff are good at explaining things.

• Staff have made the subject interesting.

• The course is intellectually stimulating.

• My course has challenged me to achieve my best work.

The petition says: “It is vital that we now call for greater accountability in this area” because right now universities are not held accountable for their mental health efforts in league tables and this is what the petition seeks to change.

Ultimately, Ben highlighted how much sympathy he has for students currently fighting to get their degrees during a pandemic: “Students are the moment are like battery farmed livestock. Not your happy free-range chickens. Battery farmed animals used for their money.

“This petition may not seem it, but the result of its success could be transformational. It would mean that in order for a university to be recognised as one of the best in the country, not only would it have to provide some of the best teaching and academic support, but importantly, it must also provide some of the best mental health support.

“The success of this petition would create a landslide culture change, away from mental health support being viewed as a necessary investment but instead as an area to upscale in, to innovate in and to excel in.”

The petition is more relevant than ever as it is revealed that 11 UK universities failed to appoint new mental health staff this academic year and students across the UK are facing extreme wait times of up to three months to access mental health support.

To sign the petition click here.

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