The impact of departmental academic skills provision on students' wellbeing


  • Louise Frith University of York
  • Leah Maitland University of York
  • James Lamont University of York



Student wellbeing in UK higher education is of serious concern, with high rates of stress and anxiety recorded among students (Pereira et al, 2019). This is compounded for international students who speak English as a second or third language. However, international students are an integral part of higher education in the United Kingdom. Strategies that are specifically designed for international students that support wellbeing are somewhat lacking across the sector (Shu et al, 2020).

The aim of this initiative is to embed academic and communication skills into students’ programmes of study in the form of weekly 2-hour academic skills classes. This small-scale study is based on the experience of teaching MA Education students, 95% of whom are Chinese. Classes focus on developing students’ understanding of critical thinking and writing, supporting their academic reading and ensuring that they understand academic conventions in the UK such as referencing and academic writing structure. Classes also provide another layer of support and social interaction for students which we hope support student wellbeing. We surveyed 40 students about how the classes support their participation and interaction, alleviate anxiety and help to develop their sense of belonging. We followed this up with students interviewing each other on their experiences of academic skills development classes. Members of the teaching team observed the interviews and took notes. This paper will report on our findings and make recommendations for how to further improve support for international PGTs.

Author Biographies

Louise Frith, University of York

Louise Frith is an Academic Skills Lecturer at the University of York. She has published three books for students: Professional writing for social workers, The students' guide to peer mentoring, and Mindfulness and wellbeing for student learning.

Leah Maitland, University of York

Leah Maitland is a qualified EFL teacher, conference interpreter and translator with over a decade’s experience of teaching English for Academic Purposes at universities in the UK, France, Belgium, and Germany. Her professional interests are student confidence and motivation, critical thinking, and academic writing.

James Lamont, University of York

James Lamont is Academic Skills Advisor for the Department of Education and Associate Lecturer at The University of York. He is interested in criticality and academic anxiety among postgraduate students.


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How to Cite

Frith, L., Maitland, L. . and Lamont, J. (2022) “The impact of departmental academic skills provision on students’ wellbeing”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.978.