Many students and staff within both Further and Higher Education have had their lives transformed over the last year. For some this will be a sense of loss and adaptation which in some cases will be through the death of loved ones. At the very least we’ve all experienced a loss of freedom and a limiting of life experience.

Whilst at present there’s a degree of hope through vaccination there’s also a sense of being in the eye of the storm, and at an institutional level a ‘fight or flight’ response in order to maintain some degree of normality to our students lives. The true emotional and financial cost of the pandemic will unfold as some degree of normality returns.

Already across the sector we’re seeing some hasty decisions to alter services for students which seem to be based on cost saving rather than genuine and evidence-based care. In what would appear to be an existential fight to survive there is opportunity to adapt, develop a greater sense of community and focus on repairing social and emotional injustice.

Others too will no doubt see an opportunity within this to make money and the threat of student services being handed over to external providers will seem attractive to institutes desperate to make savings. Already this seems to be happening at an alarming pace – often without a consideration of value for money and the impact on a student’s educational experience.

As a division we need to be proactive in rising to the challenge that the next few years will present and there are many strands to this which I’d like to focus on:

  • Web based meetings have been successful in helping us to connect with each other in a way which used to be costly, both to the planet and to our institutes. In the next year BACP Universities and Colleges hopes to build on this with regular networking events to harness a sense of community, share resource and disseminate information to help those working in FE and HE.

  • A series of training events, in conjunction with Charlie Waller Memoria Trust, based on the FE and HE core competencies framework, will enhance and strengthen the need for in-house counselling.

  • The work of SCORE continues to grow and alongside more institutes contributing data the work towards creating standardised data sets for services is in process.

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Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.