By Ed Southgate, co-Editor in Chief
The student services budget is currently protected for the next academic year, Bristol's Director of Student Services said in an interview with Epigram about its new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
The Strategy makes a number of spending aspirations and commitments. It says the University will 'actively seek opportunities to reduce the cost of living for students' - which will look at rent, transport and costs of studying -, commit to free programmes of physical activity during exam periods, and expand the Student Counselling Service in line with planned student growth.
While there is not thought to be any additional investment to fund these aims, Mark Ames, Director of Student Services, emphasised that the University is in a place to look at using the investment it does have in the most efficient way.
'There has been a lot of investment, and we are at a point where we are using that investment in the most efficient way', he said.
Last term, students marched for the second time since May 2017 demanding an improvement to mental health services. The top demand of the organiser's was to increase the funding of the counselling service and to uncap the number of counselling sessions available.
Mr Ames added: 'Looking further down the road, clearly there may come a point where we have to make additional investment' but the focus now is on efficiency. He emphasised that 'money is always finite' and that 'there will inevitably come a point where we have to make choices'.
The University will also implement a new model of counselling called One At A Time, a model that has been adopted by a number of other universities. It allows students to see a counsellor and book sessions as needed, rather than booking 4-6 in advance.
Mr Ames said that this would allow students to 'speak with a counsellor more quickly than they would be able to with the traditional model of booking sessions in advance'.
At the beginning of the last academic year, the University invested an additional £1million into wellbeing services.
More information of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy can be found here.
Featured Image: Epigram / Ed Southgate