International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
School of Business and Law
This study compares students’ and recent graduates’ perceptions of their subjective wellbeing and offers support mechanisms and resources to enhance wellbeing in higher education. Survey data were collected in September 2021 from 414 UK-based higher education students and recent graduates on their self-perceived subjective wellbeing in March 2020 (before COVID-19 regulations restrictions) and September 2021 (18 months later). Findings showed that subjective wellbeing scores fell for almost three-quarters of university students and recent graduates between March 2020 and September 2021. Interestingly, around one-fifth of participants reported increased subjective wellbeing scores whilst the remaining participants reported no impact. Positive impacts of the pandemic included opportunities for self-improvement with more free time for focusing on health and relationships. Adverse outcomes included feelings of isolation, reduced mental and physical health, difficulties undertaking degree studies and work, travel restrictions, and concerns for labour market competitiveness. The study advances the application of the conservation of resources theory and identifies strategies for higher education institutions to better support and improve their students’ and future graduates’ subjective wellbeing. Strategies include access to counselling, mindfulness, opportunities for participation in hobbies, interaction with peers, flexible work and study options, and guidance on career and finances.
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