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University of Bath

Supporting bereaved university students

This project is investigating the impact of bereavement on UK University students' mental, emotional, physical, social and financial wellbeing.

No research has considered how UK universities support students bereaved during or just before starting their studies, though newspaper coverage has identified failings in university support for bereaved students. Yet, bereavement is acknowledged to be highly stressful, with mental, emotional, physical, social, practical and financial impacts.

It is therefore widely accepted that bereaved people need time and support to recover yet we know little about support for bereaved students in the UK who typically live away from home, while being in-between full adulthood and adolescence.

Previous research in the US has shown how bereavement when studying can negatively affect concentration, learning, motivation and self-confidence but can also promote growth and maturity.


This study was conducted in two parts.

Part 1: Mapping websites

Mapping the current situation as represented by University outward facing website information. Given the lack of existing research, a scoping study was undertaken to examine information on bereavement that can be accessed from UK Universities’ outward facing websites.

Based on a sample of 90 universities (excluding colleges), just over 75% of UK universities, we found a mixed picture of both information related to bereavement support and access to this information. The information itself and user-friendliness of websites varied considerably.

The picture that emerged was that a relatively small number of universities provide links to in-house bereavement resources. Many universities rely on links to outside resources and a few with no mention of bereavement on their websites. These findings and what we know from the United States literature informed Part 2 of the research.

Part 2: Supporting bereaved students at the University of Bath

During this part of the study, we interviewed up to 6 students having experienced bereavement while studying at the University of Bath. We conducted 2 focus groups with staff involved in supporting bereaved students, including those tasked with upholding university protocols/standards (HR staff, Personal Tutors, Heads of Department)

Project team



Funded by University of Bath Student Services.