New initiative to revitalise student life on campus

The joy of reunion, a longing, but also a feeling of academic and social insecurity. The sentiment varies among the many students returning to campus. A new initiative is to revitalise student life and support the departments at Aarhus BSS in improving student well-being.

[Translate to English:] Studerende snakker ved indgang på campus i Herning
[Translate to English:] Foto: Anders Trærup, AU Foto

For many students, their well-being and satisfaction with their degree programmes have been waning during the extended coronavirus lockdown of the university. Quite understandably. Many express a great wish to return to their normal lives and routines as students. For some however, doubt and insecurity about returning accompany this wish.

“We receive a lot of enquiries from students who long to return, but experience doubts after a long period without the usual contact to their fellow students. Have I done well enough? Are the other students in the same position as me? How has the social life of the other students been – and have they had communities that I have not been part of?” says Stina Lykkebye Tylén, head of Guidance and Study Information at Aarhus BSS Studies Administration.

For this reason, it is crucial to restore the feeling of academic and social solidarity so as to support student well-being and retain them at their degree programmes. A new initiative across Aarhus BSS is to help the departments, student associations and students in creating a rewarding student life following the reopening and return to campus.

The initiative consists of a pool of earmarked funding, which the student associations can apply for and use to finance initiatives that aim to revitalise student life.

Activities organised by students nurture communities

The pool to revitalise student life and well-being constitutes a cross-organisational initiative at Aarhus BSS and aims at strengthening the students’ sense of community.

In the first round of applications, student associations can apply for funding from the pool until 4 June 2021. The funding is earmarked to co-finance activities academic in nature but with a social dimension for target groups of students, e.g. activity days, talks and presentations, debates, city walks and network meetings. Such activities organised by students play an important part in student well-being, but they have met very difficult conditions during lockdown and many student associations have had a hard time operating as usual.

The pool will be available until the end of 2021 and contains strategic funding from the committee on education, as well as funding earmarked to support well-being at institutions of higher education by the ministry.

Uncovering solutions together with departments

To support the pool, a new cross-organisational well-being coordinator will discuss needs and wishes with the departments and student associations at Aarhus BSS, subsequently assisting them with specific measures for promoting well-being. The purpose is to offer the academic environments support and guidance and help them implement their own measures.

“It is important that I talk with the departments and uncover their needs and ideas. What do they experience? What is necessary? We do not yet know the scope or the solutions, so it is important to enter the scene with a curious mindset,” says the new well-being coordinator at Aarhus BSS, Niki Rasmussen.

Different target groups require attention

The different target groups of students will be important in the measures to further well-being.

We have the 2020 year group who began their degree programmes without a traditional commencement of studies. But we also have Master’s degree students who feel isolated or have fallen behind in a way they have not tried before. There are students who look forward to rediscovering a rhythm and a community on campus. And there are students who are so unhappy that they unfortunately consider dropping out.

Moreover, after the summer holidays, Aarhus BSS will welcome an entirely new year group of students who might have different backgrounds, but who will all have been affected by the coronavirus lockdown, be it at their upper secondary school, folk high school, job or travels abroad.

Overall, the new initiative is to revitalise student life and well-being for as many students as possible and ensure a better sense of academic and social community as well as retention among new and returning students alike.

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