Healthy Student Life research: students generally feel safe, but stress levels unremittingly high

21 Mar 2024

Students generally feel safe at Radboud University, according to the Healthy Student Life study. More than 5000 Radboud students participated in the study. But there are also worrisome statistics: the number of students with stress and burnout symptoms is still unremittingly high.

It was the third time the Healthy Student Life research was conducted, which consists of an extensive survey distributed among Radboud students. Themes such as well-being, academic pressure, lifestyle, and social security are central to this research. 5214 students completed the survey in 2023 (see insert). The results were published recently.

In the study, students gave social safety at the university an 8.1, which is comparable to previous measurements in 2021 and 2022 (respectively 8.0 and 8.1). 96.9 percent of all participants in total gave social security at the university a 5.5 or higher.

High grades

Those are surprisingly high grades, according to researchers Jacqueline Vink and Sabine Geurts conclude, project leaders of Healthy Student Life. Especially considering the reports about social safety and unacceptable behaviour at Radboud University that have come out the last couple of months.

‘Those grades obviously do not take away any of the seriousness of the ongoing cases. Every case is one too many’, says Vink. ‘But it is a nice counter-narrative that the vast majority of students indicate they feel safe.’

‘You can say that the image has remained worrisome’

The students who indicated feeling unsafe said that this is especially because of discrimination and intimidation. Participants also often chose for ‘other’, but the researchers are not allowed to go into that due to privacy reasons.

65.2 percent of the participants who feel unsafe mentioned fellow students as the source of that social insecurity; 51.3 percent mentioned teachers. ‘The influence of their peers on the well-being of students seems to be greater than many people think’, Geurts says. ‘However, this does not always have to be negative. In every measurement so far, we see that the mental well-being of students is higher as they experience more social support from fellow students. Almost half of the respondents experience a lot of support (they rate it higher than a 7) from fellow students.’

Stress and burnout symptoms

‘It is important to note that the study is a snapshot of what students feel and experience per measurement moment’, Vink indicates. ‘So, these rates say nothing about cause and effect. We also cannot just draw conclusions about long-term trends.’

However, some research data can nevertheless be labelled as worrisome. For instance, two out of three students suffer from medium to high stress; four out of ten show burnout symptoms; 60 percent indicate they are struggling with depression symptoms.

Those rates are comparable to earlier research, Geurts states. ‘This means you can say that the image has remained worrisome. A lot of students also experience high performance pressure and study load.’

Incidentally, there is not only negative news about student well-being. The research shows that eight out of ten students are generally satisfied with their lives, almost seven out of ten students are happy and that more than seventy percent experience good physical health.

Translated by Juan Paas

Great that you are reading Vox! Do you want to stay up to date on all university news?

Thanks for adding the vox-app!

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!