Cambridge University spends more on academic prizes than its counselling service
A bit worrying
It's often thought that as a collegiate university, Cambridge is in an advantageous position from which to provide mental health support to its students.
However, the documentary Feeling Blue: Mental Health at Cambridge University has found that Cambridge University spends more on its academic prizes than it does on its counselling service. It is important to note that some colleges individually do spend many thousands of pounds on welfare in addition to the money they invest into the counselling service. But since many colleges are not accounting for that money seperately from other financial situation, no answers could be given on how much was invested.
The team behind the documentary enquired how much each college had spent on supplementary mental health training for staff and students in the year 2016-2017. Answers given ranged between £0 and £38,296. In the same year, the university and colleges rewarded academic success through funding scholars' prizes, amounting £1.07 million in total. This information and more is compiled in the Findings and Unanswered Questions document available via the website.
Feeling Blue: Mental Health at Cambridge was created by a team of ex-Cambridge University students and released in May 2019. It is available to view for free online here. Check out The Tab's interview with Luke Naylor-Perrott, producer-director and writer, and Jay Richardson, producer and soundtrack composer here.
In exam term, this allegation is especially concerning. Cambridge University is famous for its academic vigour, but it is also notorious for the pressure it puts its students under to excel. Imposter syndrome runs high, and balloting systems that favour students who achieve Firsts in their exams have been under heavy fire for their detrimental effects on student mental health. No wonder, then, that the student body has reacted negatively to the disparity in funding between academic prizes and the counselling service. YouTuber and English student at Jesus College, Astrid Franciszka took to Twitter to express outrage:
The document of Findings and Unanswered Questions is publically available online via feelingbluedoc.com
Cover image is the author's own.