A manifesto on student wellbeing was signed by Rector Magnificus Annelien Bredenoord and directors of education of all faculties during the Opening of the Academic Year 2022-2023. In the manifesto seven points are drawn up to achieve a better state of wellbeing for all students at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Dr. Robin Eijlers, project lead student wellbeing, and Ella Goldfarb, master’s student Clinical Psychology, explain why the document is necessary: “We need to pay attention to this, if we want to create societal impact as a university.”
The manifesto is part of a university-wide program on student wellbeing. It states that ‘a focus on wellbeing and personal development is crucial to fulfill the mission of educating and preparing balanced, socially involved citizens of the future’. Robin Eijlers explains: “There are a lot of different professionals that are stakeholders when it comes to student wellbeing, but actually students are the most important ones. We want to create a shared vision on how to fulfill this mission and structurally embed student wellbeing at our university.”
"The manifesto is also a way to show students what is happening behind the curtains."
Student Ella Goldfarb explains that a lot of students talk about this topic: “They complain about the waiting time for student psychologists for example, and that nothing seems to be done about this.” Robin Eijlers responds: “Good thing you mention this, because the manifesto is also a way to show students what is happening behind the curtains. We don’t only operate bottom-up for students with all sorts of initiatives, but also on a policy level that students might not notice yet.”
Not feeling at home at our university
When Ella Goldfarb was a first-year student at Erasmus University Rotterdam, she experienced difficulties as an international student far from home, without her family around: “I ignored it and focused on my studies, but then I realized I didn’t feel at home at all at university.” She talked to a student psychologist a few times but was most supported by talking to her study advisor. “She was an international as well and could relate really well to what I was feeling.”
A chain of care
This is also why one of the focus points of the manifesto is ‘Variety of services’. Robin Eijlers: “We call this the ‘chain of care’ and we offer it because all students have different issues and thus different needs.” The other focus points in the manifesto are:
- Focus on Student Success (instead of study success)
- Normalizing the focus on wellbeing
- From and for all students
- University-wide approach
- Timely support
- Evidence-based innovation
“I think new students can find help more easily now. "
Easier to find the services
Another thing the program Student Wellbeing focusses on is accessibility. “As a freshman I needed help and I couldn’t find, but now it is there”, says Ella Goldfarb. “I think new students can find help more easily. There are a lot of new things now, like anonymous chats and the student living room. So personally, I’ve seen an improvement.”
To make it easier for students to find the different services, a new interactive overview for all support services (login on MyEUR) available at EUR was launched recently. “This overview is created to help students find the support service that best suits their needs in an accessible and effective way. We’ve heard a lot from students that they were not aware of all options and that they could not find the services”, says Robin Eijlers.
A sense of belonging
When asked about what will change because of this manifesto Robin Eijlers says: “The shared vision to start with and I hope this will help all students to find their own path, to develop their talents and themselves, characterized by resilience.”
Ella Goldfarb: “That students can find that they are not in their bubble, they are not the only ones with problems and that our university is doing something to help them.” Robin Eijlers concludes: “The sense of belonging is so important! Maybe students are not even aware they are missing out on that. Especially after covid this is a thing. We want you to feel at home here.”