Wellbeing in Higher Education: A SEDA Special

Image: Emily Millen, Loughborough University

One thing is for certain; we will never forget 2020 and now, 2021! As we embarked on our Co-Editor duties for SEDA’s first Special on Wellbeing in Higher Education (HE) back in September 2019, we could not have begun to imagine how everyday life would dramatically change in a matter of months. At that time ‘wellbeing’ was already a ‘hot’ topic in HE, but as the Covid-19 pandemic progressed, we soon realised that our SEDA Special could not have been timelier!

As we connected with contributors from across the globe, we were all in unfamiliar lockdown territory but united in a shared vision to draw upon our wide-ranging knowledge, expertise, and experiences to ultimately provide insight and guidance on how best to support staff and students to achieve their wellbeing equilibrium. Moreover, we wanted to draw attention to valuable resources, and techniques for readers to consult as appropriate to their needs and interests.

The Special is a compilation of short pieces that explore wellbeing in HE from three key angles. To start with, we consider students’ wellbeing. Silvia Colaiacomo asks, “Is everything OK?” and examines how we can support international students integrate into the wider university community. We (Katryna and Sarah) look at similarities and differences between our foundation and postgraduate students and provide a taster on what we can do to best support these cohorts. Jan Bamford and Sheelagh Heugh highlight how technology can benefit student integration and belonging through a gamification project, and Vivien Bell and Simon Cassidy help us to think about how university students could become more resilient.

We then focus on our academic staff. Ruth Pilkington helps us to reflect on the state of our academics in our HE institutions and guides thinking towards how we can support them in their daily work. James Moran (and Sarah) explore the journey of new academics and their wellness. Rachel Scudamore and Jonathan Phelan then challenge us to think about our communications with others, focusing on mentally healthy and unhealthy conversations.

Our final section considers educational developers. Klodiana Kolomitro, Natasha Kenny, and Suzanne Le-May Sheffield encourage us to foster wellbeing in our workplaces. This leads to the final conclusions providing our suggestions for 1) student wellbeing, 2) academic staff wellbeing, 3) educational developers, 4) recognising and addressing all our needs, and 5) online working to support future initiatives in our institutions. We thank all our contributors for their insight and guidance. We also wish those who read the Special the very best as we all continue to experience new working routines and practices throughout this academic year and beyond!

Dr Katryna Kalawsky and Dr Sarah Turner, Loughborough University

Purchase the SEDA Special: Wellbeing in Higher Education

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