Student survey achieves high satisfaction rating and triggers charity donation

UHI Inverness has donated £2,000 to local charity James Support Group following a successful student survey campaign that achieved an impressive overall satisfaction rating of 93 per cent.

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UHI Inverness Vice Principal Lindsay Snodgrass, Patrick Mullery of James Support Group and UHI Inverness Principal Professor Chris O' Neil.

Students voted at the Refreshers Fayre and chose the suicide prevention and support group as the charity to benefit from a donation incentive linked to the number of completed Student Satisfaction and Engagement Surveys (SSES). 

The final response rate was 53 per cent, which is a 20 per cent increase on last year’s figure for the same survey, and it unlocked a £1,000 donation. An end-of-term bake sale and raffle in aid of the charity – plus an additional donation from UHI Inverness on behalf of strongman athletes Luke and Tom Stoltman to thank them for being last year’s graduation guest speakers – brought the final donation figure to £2,000.

The overall student satisfaction rating of 93 per cent is four per cent higher than last year’s rating for the same survey, and 13 per cent above that for the 2021 survey during the pandemic. The survey feedback helps to inform changes and further improvements to the student experience.

The James Support Group was established by the family of James Mullery after the 28-year-old father-of-three took his own life in October 2017. Since then, the group has established a 24-hour helpline and a network of support groups across the Highlands for people bereaved by suicide and those experiencing suicidal thoughts. As part of the charity partnership James’s father Patrick has visited the Inverness Campus to offer mental health support and information to staff and students.

Lindsay Snodgrass, a Vice Principal at UHI Inverness, said: “This survey campaign was an amazing success. I’m delighted we achieved a high response rate and raised awareness of and funds for a fantastic local charity. Significantly, we also established a lasting connection between James Support Group and our student population which I hope will be a valuable source of support for them for years to come.

“The 93 per cent overall satisfaction rating is testament to the hard work of all teams across our organisation. We saw some significant increases in participation across our departments, with the highest response rate of 76 per cent achieved by Business, Computing and Hospitality. The feedback we received will prove to be vital in driving continuous improvement here at UHI Inverness.”

Patrick from Cromarty said: “James Support Group is delighted to have been chosen by the students for this year’s charity partnership, and I’m extremely happy that more than 50 per cent of all students participated in the survey. Success can be measured in many ways, and already we have had several meaningful conversations with students, and we intend to reach as many as possible in the coming 12 months by being available at the campus and by giving short positive mental health talks to as many classes as we can.

“This will highlight that if they are struggling, they are not alone and there are some self-help tips that can really make a difference. Our 24/7 helpline service can play a major part in providing immediate support in times of crisis."

A special event was held on campus on Tuesday, 25 April to present the donation to Patrick, who was joined by James’s partner Jodie and Nicola Urquhart, the group’s trustee and clinical psychologist.

The survey campaign was led by Emma Baillie, Quality Officer, who said: “The survey has provided us with a wealth of information and given us a revealing insight into the experiences of our students across both campuses. We have collated, analysed and distributed the survey responses and have already taken initial steps to act on some of the points raised. Our partnership with James Support Group has been a really rewarding positive motivator for students. Not only did it encourage them to engage in our survey, but it enabled them to talk openly about mental health and to seek support.”

William Campbell, UHI Inverness President of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, said: “As the HISA Inverness President I want to thank everyone who completed the SSES. The feedback will help us at HISA Inverness to improve our student experience. I am also very happy that James Support Group was chosen as the charity that will benefit from the donation, as it is such an important local charity to me personally and to many other students who are dealing with suicide within family or friend groups. The time I spent chatting to Patrick really resonated with me and I look forward to having more involvement with the group and working with them to embed them into the UHI Inverness community.”