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Student well-being in the spotlight at the EUniWell symposium

‘There’s so much knowledge, research and experience in the field of student well-being. Let’s put this topic on the agenda, work together to promote it, and learn from each other.’ This was the message of the two-day virtual symposium on Good Practices for Student Well-Being.

Staff, students and researchers affiliated with one of the EUniWell universities shared their knowledge and experience in the field of student well-being in the course of seven panel sessions. Over 25 good practices from all over Europe were reviewed. After the panel sessions, participants were invited to continue the conversation in the network sessions. ‘It was a powerful event: these last two days were a reminder that we cannot improve our students’ well-being by taking action once. Rather, we have to promise each other and ourselves that we’ll continue to work to promote the well-being of our students,’ said symposium host Gilberto Morishaw.

A EUniWell symposium?

As project officer for EUniWell at Leiden University, Marielle Veldhuijzen van Zanten officially opened the symposium, following which hosts Gilberto Morishaw and Kendra Perry introduced the EUniWell alliance. ‘EUniWell stands for the European University for Well-Being, an initiative uniting seven European universities: Leiden, Birmingham, Florence, Cologne, Linnaeus, Nantes, and Semmelweis. This alliance offers students, researchers and lecturers new international opportunities for collaboration and development across education and research in the field of well-being,’ says Marielle. EUniWell was launched a year ago in November, in the midst of a global pandemic. Since then, the alliance has organised many successful activities. Marielle explains: ‘We have more than 100 partners, including local authorities and various organisations in the private sector. The alliance brings together over 350 participants and 80 different work groups with members from each partner university.’

Panel sessions taught us more about 26 good practices

In the course of seven panel sessions, spread over two days, initiators from European universities shared their good practices with the symposium participants. The sessions were centred on the following themes: well-being as part of the curriculum, student support, research and tools, projects for well-being, scientific research on well-being, well-being in specific subjects, and engaging students in well-being. The panel sessions led to eye-openers and inspiring discoveries. Read more about two of the panel sessions.

EUniwell dance

Closing with a ‘EUniWell dance’ and advice

Having fun is important too! A special ‘EUniWell dance’ was launched during the symposium by the hosts Gilberto and Kendra. ‘It’s really important to also have fun together!’ said Gilberto. At the closing of the symposium, everyone was invited to dance along and then continue the discussion in the network sessions. Participants talked until late in the afternoon. ‘I’m sure this event will lead to many inspiring initiatives and actions,’ said symposium project leader Jasper Bitter. 'And if you need support, or if you’re feeling down, please seek help! There’s always someone who can help, but you’ve got to take the first step and ask'.

The symposium took place online. A special app allowed participants to make contact and share fun facts and previews before the symposium. Every participant was also assigned a virtual student ‘to care for’: an instructive and fun way to explore the topic in more depth. In the coming weeks, the app will remain available (App store or Google Play) with replays of the presentations, and the opportunity for participants to stay in touch.

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