In 2020, the Office for Students announced a major collaborative programme to find innovative ways to support groups of students with characteristics identified as increasing the risk of poor mental health and students who may experience barriers to accessing support due to their course, mode of study or other characteristics.

The OfS awarded just over £3 million, with co-funding of more than £3.16 million from lead providers and their partners, across 18 collaborative projects which will run until September 2023. The programme includes more than 90 organisations, including higher education providers, charities, NHS partners, students’ unions, sector bodies, digital providers and local authorities. The projects work as a network and share effective practice with the sector.

University staff will work with the Students’ Union and Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Recovery College to develop, test and deliver an innovative online suite of tools to support students in managing their own mental health.

‘PACE - A co-explored and co-created solution to address the mental health difficulties of students who undertake placement learning’ is part of the mental health funding competition programme: Using innovation and intersectional approaches to target mental health support for students, funded by the Office for Students. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Their aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

The funding was offered to develop and test approaches that enable a more joined up service between the higher education and health sectors. The proposed project will put students at the heart of the partnership.

The two-year pilot project, which will start immediately, will focus on three groups of students studying for Nursing, Primary Education and Engineering degree courses.