HEA Conference – ‘Supporting Success through Wellbeing in Higher Education’

By Amber Flynn

Posted: 20 April, 2023

Left to right: Prof Margaret Barry, University of Galway, Dr Deirdre Quinn, HEA, Biddy O’Neill Department of Health, Tim Conlon, HEA, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science Simon Harris, Caroline Mahon, HEA. 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) and Justice, Simon Harris TD will today (20th April 2023) deliver the opening address at Ireland’s first national wellbeing conference for higher education. ‘Supporting Success through Wellbeing in Higher Education’ is being hosted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

The conference highlights the importance of embedding support for student and staff wellbeing into the work of our higher education institutions (HEIs) as a key enabler to successful outcomes for those engaged in higher education. It also aims to bring awareness to the powerful role institutional leadership has in ensuring the delivery of that support.

‘Supporting Success through Wellbeing in Higher Education’ is bringing together policy decision makers from across government departments including DFHERIS and the Department of Health, government agencies, and institutional leaders along with HEI staff and students working on the implementation of the Healthy Campus Charter and Framework and the National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework.

Key themes throughout the day will include:

  • a whole campus approach to health and wellbeing
  • wellbeing and leadership
  • collaboration
  • the celebration of current practice in HEIs
  • mental health and health promotion.

Speakers will include Professor Margaret Barry, University of Galway and Professor Christiane Stock, Charité, Universitätsmedizin, Berlin. The Irish results from the Eurostudent 8 Report will also be presented by the HEA Executive and broadcaster Síle Seoige will MC the event.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

“I am delighted to open the Ireland’s first national wellbeing conference for higher education, marking an important collaboration between the Higher Education Authority and Healthy Ireland. The conference builds on the work being done across the sector to support students as they navigate their way through their third level experience.

This conference gives us an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made but also on the challenges that lay ahead. We have made important interventions in the area of mental health and eradicating sexual violence and harassment but there are areas where we need to do more. Today gives us the chance to hear from students and staff about where the challenges are and about how we can set about make improvements together.”

Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA also said:

The HEA is committed to advancing the wellbeing agenda and this conference marks an important step for health and wellbeing across the higher education sector. Ireland, through this work, is being recognised as a leader internationally and across Europe and we are delighted to form part of the International Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Steering Group. I want to acknowledge the work of higher education institutions in relation to wellbeing and encourage continued commitment of leadership working to progress the support of students towards successful outcomes.”

HEA funded national projects which are building capacity across the higher education sector will also be represented at the conference. The HEA in conjunction with the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education in Ireland (PCHEI) will launch the ‘Identify and Respond Project’. ‘Identify and Respond’ is an HEA funded project delivering training for all HEIs in how to identify and respond to distressed students. The National Suicide Research Foundation at UCC will deliver a presentation on their work and Student Services at the University of Galway will provide an update on the University’s ‘Development Café”. Institutions will also showcase good practice being built into the daily lives of staff and students at HEIs through submitted case studies.

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