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University respond to Tab article about forthcoming pastoral review

It follows an article released yesterday

Following an article released yesterday about the forthcoming Bristol University review into pastoral care in halls, UoB have now released a lengthy statement in response to the claims put forward by The Tab.

A University spokesperson told this publication today: “Feedback in the University Strategy consultation made clear that our students wanted to see enhanced wellbeing and mental health support across the University – in Student Services, in academic schools and in our residences. The consultation also strongly highlighted the need to improve inclusivity and diversity at the University, ensuring all groups receive the support they need while at Bristol.”

“We value the important contribution our wardens, deputy wardens and senior residents currently make to our students’ wellbeing – important roles they undertake on top of a full-time staff or student role.”

“Our current model of residential pastoral support was designed at a time when we had far fewer students, far less diversity in our student body, a much more limited range of Halls, and when the complexity of mental health and wellbeing issues was much less than now.”

“The aim of the review is to develop an enhanced residential support service which is sector leading and provides dedicated wellbeing and residential life staffing that is highly trained and accessible 24/7 as well as providing the best possible value for money to our students. Any future model will ensure we maintain the very strong sense of community in our Halls, including social spaces and community building activities, as well as the much-valued bond with our alumni community.”

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“We are taking a ‘whole of institution’ approach to student supports and the proposed changes should be seen in the context of a related additional £1m investment in the new Student Wellbeing Service and increased investment in the Student Health and Counselling Services. We want to be absolutely clear that the overall level of expenditure on student mental health and wellbeing will increase and have greater impact through providing a more consistently high quality and coordinated level of support.”

“To be clear, this is not a cost-saving exercise. This review is focused on enhancing the level, quality and consistency of support we provide our students in Halls, and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. We do however recognise that our current residential model is more expensive than many of our peer institutions and we are committed to running our residences as effectively as possible.”

“Any savings created through efficiencies will be savings for students and not for the University. Rents will not increase because of this review. Indeed, the exact opposite is the case. We are committed to reinvesting any funding generated as a result of efficiencies back into the residences to either further invest in student services or limit rent increases to the minimum possible.”

“The proposed plan is due to be shared with those directly affected at a series of meetings next week. We will also continue to consult with students about their priorities for a new service.”