Almost sixty percent of students receiving counselling at university or college found that the service helped them stay on their course, according to new research.
Students who had completed counselling were asked to what extent it had helped them stay at college/university - 58.3 percent said it was either ‘an important factor' or ‘the most significant factor' in helping them stay on their course.
At a time when students are being asked to invest more in their education, the survey - carried out by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) - provides new evidence that universities have a responsibility to provide effective support, to ensure the time and money that students invest in their education does not go to waste.
Andrew Reeves, from the University of Liverpool Counselling Service, said:
"University counselling services provide a safe space for students to discuss their troubles when they are feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable about speaking to friends or family. Not only does counselling play a huge role in students' wellbeing but these figures show it can make all the difference when a student is considering dropping out of their course completely."
Respondents reported similar positive experiences of counselling in relation to their academic achievement, employability and overall experience of further or higher education:
- 51.9 percent of respondents said counselling was at least an important factor in in helping them do better in their academic work.
- 57.1 percent of respondents said counselling helped them develop skills they felt might be useful in obtaining future employment, such as self-understanding, understanding of others, managing difficult feelings better, increased confidence and assertiveness.
- 58.4 percent of respondents said it helped improve their overall student experience.
Respondents were also asked to comment on aspects of counselling that were helpful to them.
Patti Wallace, Lead Advisor, University and College Counselling, at BACP, and lead researcher for the study, said:
"University and college counselling services have seen a marked increase in demand over recent years, reflecting the increasing challenges faced by students, including the increased cost of tertiary education and the difficult job market awaiting students at the end of their courses.
"Given the challenges facing the generation currently at university and college, it is particularly good to learn from our analysis of respondents' comments that, in addition to improving academic outcomes, counselling also helped students feel more confident, optimistic and hopeful about the future."
"The impact of counselling on academic outcomes in further and higher education: the student perspective" will be presented to the 18th Annual BACP Research Conference in Edinburgh on 11th May.
Data from 1,263 students from 42 universities and 11 FE colleges was submitted for analysis in January 2012. All individual respondents were students who completed counselling within the period 1 September to 31 December 2011.