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At yesterday’s meeting of Academic Committee, the students’ union submitted a paper on the chronic underfunding of Student Psychological Services, prior to discussion at the upcoming meeting of UCL Council, the university’s highest governing body.

The committee, whose members include most of UCL’s Vice Provosts, Faculty Tutors and Deans, as well as the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing and the Registrar, under whom SPS falls, is chaired by the Provost.

We reported on the fact that the last seven years have seen a 49 percent increase in the number of students registering for SPS per counsellor - reflecting the fivefold growth in the reporting of mental health issues from students across the sector, as well as the huge expansion in student numbers and lack of parallel investment in counselling provision.

When it was argued by the Registrar that the students’ union was being unnecessarily adversarial in our campaign for mental health funding, we responded that the partnership model between the union and the university had ultimately failed students; reports, petitions and open letters had all failed to instigate any meaningful discussion about additional resource allocation, and we had been forced to take direct action until such as a point as the university accepted the severity of the situation and committed to properly funding SPS.

The matter was discussed at length, the committee as whole ultimately being sympathetic to the arguments we presented. Tutors present reported of the widespread knowledge at faculty and department level of students being unable to access mental health support, and were surprised to hear how much resistance senior management have thus far shown in discussions about funding for SPS.

At the end of the meeting, the Vice Provost for Education - who was chairing in the Provost’s absence - said that this matter had been discussed by senior management before the meeting, and that they were keen to meet with the students’ union urgently in order to discuss ‘a middle ground’ on funding and ‘to restore partnership’.

The UCL: Fund Our Mental Health Services campaign is looking forward to meeting with the Provost and relevant members of senior management in order to discuss the allocation of increased resources for Student Psychological Services.