We research: Student well-being through developing a collaborative network

23.2.2024Reetta-Kaisa Kuusiluoma, Maija PenttiläWe research

Student well-being and functional ability are the basis for the smooth progress of higher education studies. The whole university community contributes to the ability to study and the smooth progress of studies.

Students at Smiley Café playing table hockey.
Students at Smiley Café playing table hockey.

Students who are in good health are better able to progress in their studies and complete their studies on time. The student's personal resources, study skills, the study environment and teaching and counselling (Finnish Student Health Service FSHS and the Study Ability Model by Finnish Institution of Occupational Health) all contribute to the student's ability to learn. Different areas of the learning ability support each other, so strengths in one or more areas support the maintenance of learning ability, even when challenges arise in another area.

The results of SAMK's student well-being survey show that students' perceived well-being and ability to study are on the rise. According to the Spring 2023 results, students need both academic guidance and personal support. Since the coronavirus period, face-to-face tutoring on campuses has been increased and authentic encounters have been encouraged. The loneliness and isolation caused by the pandemic are no longer as prominent in student well-being survey responses. The results of the survey have been discussed in various forums and clear development objectives have been set for student well-being work. In response to challenges raised by students, such as concentration and timetabling, support workshops have been organised by the special needs teacher and efforts have been made to develop peer activities.

Well-being services permanently available to all

Collaboration and inclusive experiences strengthen community well-being. Interaction, collaboration and a variety of ways of working are key factors that contribute to the learning and well-being of community members and prepare them for the workplace of the future.

The development of student well-being services at SAMK started with the SataSport project (2018-2021), which built CampusMoWe's sport and wellbeing services into a permanent operation. CampusMoWe has been the driving force behind the student wellbeing projects StudyWell and FeelWell, which received funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture for the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects have recognised the importance of guidance and pedagogical well-being for the well-being of the whole higher education community.

Student team-building activities at Kirjurinluoto.

The student well-being projects included the development of community-based Smiley Café, the piloting of well-being tutoring, Studybuddy peer mentoring and the implementation of remote activities to support well-being. Students' awareness of their learning ability was raised through various well-being events organised in cooperation.

In well-being tutoring, students from different fields of study were recruited and trained as well-being tutors, who organised various leisure activities for SAMK students. They got to know the local community through sports experiments and museum tours. In Studybuddy, social work students were trained as peer mentors, providing support and encouragement to students who for example returned to study after a break or were lonely. In addition to CampusMoWe, the student union SAMMAKKO has played a key role, not forgetting other actors in the welfare and guidance of the university.

Student well-being projects have helped to establish jointly developed operating models and events at SAMK permanently. Student Well-being Week, Mental Health Day, Smiley Café, Sport Appros and the community-based activities of the wellbeing tutors will continue to be made possible through the guidance and support of the student wellbeing officers and the cooperation network. The next Student Well-being Survey will be carried out at SAMK in the spring of 2024.

A new database will bring together approaches to support student well-being

The StudyWell and FeelWell student well-being projects were part of a wider network of more than thirty higher education institutions that had received specific grants to develop guidance and student well-being. The aim of the Network on Student Well-being and Guidance in Higher Education (KOHO) is to support the sharing of good practices in student well-being among higher education institutions and to support the dissemination of good practices in the implementation of student well-being and guidance. The network has compiled a database of good practices in student well-being, which brings together good practices and operating models that have been tried and tested or developed in higher education institutions. These can be easily adopted by other higher education institutions. To date, there are almost 50 models available. The Coho network database can be found at www.opiskeluhyvinvointi.fi/en and new models will continue to be updated on the site.

Did you know?

  • SAMK has more than 6000 students, of which about 1000 are international students.
  • Over 1300 visits to Smiley Café during the year.
  • CampusMoWe's sports and well-being services are available to all higher education students and staff in the Satakunta region.
  • The results of the student wellbeing survey have been discussed, for example, at the Guidance and Pedagogical Well-being Day and at meetings of the different faculties. The next Guidance and Pedagogical Well-being Day will take place in autumn 2024.
  • SAMK’s regularly meeting Study and Well-being Development Group includes the church of Rauma and Pori, FSHS, SAMMAKKO, SAMK representatives from faculties, study guidance, management and CampusMoWe.

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