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Student Mental Health and Learning Analytics (Advert Reference RDFC19/SSL/FRANCIS)

  • Funded PhD Programme (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Programme (Students Worldwide)

Profile Description

Students are reporting lower levels of wellbeing. 2015/16 saw a five-fold increase in first year students disclosing mental illness, compared to a decade before. There were 95 student suicides in England and Wales in 2016/17. As part of an OfS funded project entitled Mental Health and Analytics: A Continuum Approach to Understanding and Improving Student Mental Health we are offering two studentships for two students to undertake doctoral evaluative research on the project which aims to improve mental health and learning outcomes for all students, match students in need to appropriate health and wellbeing support, and reduce student suicide.

The project will utilise a Critical Realist Evaluation in order to address OfS's return on investment by scrutinising not only if the benefits of the project are realised in terms of quantified improvements in mental health outcomes but also more qualitatively, why. This approach has been selected to ensure that the investment is sustainable and the evaluative output of the project is for the benefit of the sector as a whole. The evidence will be collected across the length of the project and its three workstreams:

  • Suicide Intervention and Prevention
  • Helping Students in Difficulties
  • Supporting a Thriving Community

The evaluation will draw upon both quantitative and qualitative methods, taking an end to end - longitudinal approach - to produce a theory of change to benefit the sector as a whole. The successful applicants will have the opportunity to focus their research on specific areas, alongside evaluating the impact of the project against its stated outcomes. That is, successful applicants will have the opportunity to undertake research on specific aspects of the project, aligning either to one of the three workstreams, or particular cross-cutting themes.

The project is a collaboration between 10 sector leading Universities and technology companies, students, a mental health charity and sector representative organisations. By 2021, the project will, it is hoped, deliver a whole university, stepped approach to identify and respond to students in mental health crisis, enabling positive interventions, and engaged and thriving student communities. Outputs will be scalable sector-wide.

The successful candidates will be supervised by Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Northumbria University.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

· Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
· Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
· Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference RDFC19/SSL/FRANCIS will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Friday 29 November 2019. Interviews will follow in December.
Studentships are available to start as soon as possible.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Each studentship provides a full tax-free stipend, paid for three years at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.

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