Brad Woolridge, PhD Student, Cardiff Met
The overall aim of my PhD study is to develop understanding of the demands faced by undergraduate students at Cardiff Metropolitan University, discover what resources are available to support such students, to carry-out interventions based on demands articulated, and subsequently inform future provision to support students’ wellbeing during their studies.
During my time as the Students’ Union President, I came across many students going through indifferent experiences, and student services had seen an increase for their services year-on-year for the last 5 years. For me, university was a fantastic experience, but my eyes were opened to realise this wasn’t the case for all students. With such a diverse demographic of students at the university, the support needed was so wide-ranging. Not only were the demands rising for the services, but the retention rates of students were also on the decline. The need to better understand the demands students were facing and ways to better support them was significant.
In a meeting with the Vice Chancellor in January 2017, the idea to research into this area was discussed, and from thereon, I worked to putting together a proposal to the university. Fortunately, by July 2017 I had the proposal accepted, ready to start my PhD journey in September 2017.
As outlined, the aim of the PhD is based around getting a better understanding of Cardiff Met undergraduates, but I would love to collaborate with other universities to enhance our understanding further. My first study is a questionnaire based around student wellbeing, influenced by positive psychology, to get a broad understanding of the demands faced by students, and to see how they are coping. The plan is to follow up the quantitative method with qualitative methods, using focus groups/interviews to gain a richer understanding with cohorts that express significant findings. The final study would then look to roll-out some small interventions that could look to support students/help to build their resources to deal with the demands faced.
I am in the early stages of my PhD and my journey to better understand this area and realise there are many questions that need to be answered. I would love to work in this area, and the higher education sector for years to come, and contribute to the wider sector to gain a better understanding of mental health/wellbeing. Any opportunity to collaborate would be welcomed, and if you would like to find out more about the PhD then please contact me directly.
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