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Focus on stress and culture at AU

On 3 December 2014, the Student Council and the senior management team hosted an open meeting about stress among students at Aarhus University to discuss the competitive environment and culture at the university’s degree programmes and the external pressure from society.

The motivation behind the meeting was the 2014 study environment survey, which revealed that seventeen per cent of students at AU often or almost always experience strong stress-related symptoms on a daily basis.

“In response to the disturbing results of the study environment survey, the Student Council was interested in working with the university to get a discussion about stress started among students,” explains Allan Vesterlund Graversen, chair of the Student Council.

Pressures, lack of fixed working hours and unclear requirements for assignments are some of the things that contribute to increasing the risk of stress among students. In a presentation at the meeting, Psychologist and manager of the Student Counselling Service in Aarhus Maris Dall explained that students are exposed to both external and internal stress. She advised that students need to be realistic in their own assessment of their abilities and workload in relation to their expectations of the results.

Making the problem explicit

Students, lecturers and supervisors from all academic environments were present to address the problem of stress and discuss what can be done to combat stress among students.

I'm here for two reasons. I have to do a speech in connection with an exam and would like to use the topic of stressed students. In addition, I’ve experienced a mild degree of stress in connection with an exam and have friends who have also struggled with stress," says Stine Liberty Svenningsen, who’s in the 5th semester on the comparative literature programme.

Improving the study environment at the faculties 

At the meeting, all four faculties at Aarhus University presented concrete examples of how they are working to improve student well-being. One of the initiatives in progress is the mentor scheme at BSS, which pairs a mentor (a Master’s degree student) with a mentee (a second-semester student). Mentors share their experiences and help mentees help themselves.

The goal of the meeting was to make the problem of stress explicit, share experiences and learn from each other. The mentor scheme and new frameworks for study groups and their role in student well-being are some of the approaches that will be emphasised in future.

Read more about student welfare

Read more about the study environment survey at AU