John de Pury, Assistant Director, Universities UK

Every student suicide is tragic, devastating for family and friends and with profound and far-reaching impacts across wider communities of students and staff. It is hard to imagine anything more immediately testing for university leadership.

The topic is of heightened public interest though – sadly, local and national media have not always reported these deaths within the guidelines set out by the Samaritans. It is also of governmental concern. At the end of last year, Jeremy Hunt urged universities to respond to the steep rise in student suicides in England and Wales which he indicated have nearly doubled since 2007. The number is misleading – the Office for National Statistics does report an increase in deaths by suicide in full-time students in England and Wales from 2006 until 2016 but over the same period entrants to full-time first-degree, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research courses have also increased considerably (by 31.2%, 30.5% and 25.7% respectively) – it is the rate (per 100,000) that matters. But the Secretary of State's message is nonetheless important. There is much that can be done. As he went on to point out in the same article, big improvements in response and prevention can only be achieved on the basis of accurate and reliable data. Producing a robust national dataset remains challenging – relying as it does on coroners' verdicts which are susceptible to misreporting of student status. The ONS is currently working with HESA to link national aggregate records, work that will report in Spring 2018.

Last week Universities UK launches a further research project in partnership with the University of Worcester to improve our understanding of student suicide to enable better prevention and response. A survey of UUK members elicits data about the incidence of student suicide and current suicide prevention strategies across the sector. Because of the highly sensitive nature of this information, individual organisations will not be attributed in the analysis and the research will only report aggregate data and general trends. The project has the support of the Department of Health, Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics.

Why is this important? Firstly, because there is much that universities can do to improve how they respond to deaths by suicide. There is significant variation in practice across the higher education sector and learning that could be drawn in from other sectors. For example, Business in the Community partnered with Public Health England to produce a suite of materials to help organisations support the mental and physical health and wellbeing of employees including an exemplary suicide postvention toolkit co-produced with the Samaritans. UUK is currently scoping co-producing a similar postvention toolkit for universities.

Secondly, because so many of these deaths may be preventable. Jeremy Hunt recently announced a 'zero suicide ambition' for NHS and care settings.What would this ambition mean for universities? Certainly it would involve access to services for those in distress, both university-provided support services and statutory health care with effective local join up between the two. But, given that many students take their lives without contact with services, this must be a wider effort, from institutional safe guarding to looking after your mate, from mental health first aid training to the building of aware and compassionate communities. These must be whole organisation approaches that prioritise the issue of mental health including mental distress and instigate and sustain systematic improvement.

These themes and more will be explored at our event Understanding, preventing and responding to student suicide on 24 April 2018 at Woburn House.

John de Pury, Assistant Director, Universities UK

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @FENews: NGWLive: Network Rail: NGWLive: Network Rail
View Original Tweet

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

City of London Corporation provides Square Mile schoolchildren with food vouchers during half term break:…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page