Enhancing the Student Experience

Engaging creatively with students at the University of Edinburgh

The Healthy University project at Edinburgh employed its first two members of in May 2014. Helen Ryall and Louise Gourmelen are committed to ensuring that the student voice is central to everything that develops in Edinburgh.

Healthy University event cartoonist

As a new project, they needed to develop a baseline to discover what is happening already, what the issues are for students, and paint a picture of what the future could look like when healthy university principles are applied in practice.

But how best to ensure that students are involved and engaged in developing the vision for a healthy university at Edinburgh? Work began on this front in earnest when the students started their new semester in September with two creative initiatives designed to gather student views and experiences.

To discover what the issues influencing students’ health were, the Healthy University team enlisted the help of a local cartoonist, Graham Ogilvie. During Freshers Week passing students were invited to come and talk about the idea of a healthy university. Graham managed very successfully to capture their ideas and thoughts on some of the common issues such as:

Healthy University event cartoon
  • the pressure to drink alcohol at social events
  • the impact of social isolation on their mental health
  • how to access affordable food
  • the benefits of being physically active both indoors and out.

Helen and Louise also wanted to hear from students about their vision of a healthy Edinburgh University. To encourage this they launched a photo competition in collaboration with the Photo and Medics societies, where students could submit photos to the HealthyU Facebook page.

They received over 70 entries across four categories: environment, lifestyle, connectedness and fun. A judging panel with representatives from the Student Counselling Service, Department for Sustainability, Centre for Sport and Exercise and students from the partner societies, chose a winner and runner up for each category. There was a prize-giving evening and the winning photos can be seen on the Healthy University Facebook page:

Healthy University Facebook page

The value of working with students is enormous - and fun! The team will continue to engage with students as their plans and projects continue over the coming year.