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Sustainable Learning

Ensuring that students have access to an inclusive, diverse, flexible, and collaborative education creates a foundation for fostering positive student experiences. By maintaining and prioritizing these principles, we can take significant strides in safeguarding students' long-term mental well-being. Doing so, the University of Cambridge can establish a stable and nurturing environment that enriches the overall educational journey for its students.

By stretching the concept of sustainability beyond its ecological meaning and into the area of mental health and personal wellbeing, this section will explore students' aspirations for the university as a nurturing and healthy learning environment and the barriers they have encountered in achieving such a vision. However, when talking about students’ expectations of the university and whether those expectations were met, some participants directly mentioned the university’s less positive impact on their mental health.

Better Tomorrow: Sustainable 1

Students expect a reasonable volume of course material which does not overwhelm them.

Barriers: The amount of information that students are being taught and told to process is unsustainable, which, in turn, can impact students' mental health.

Opportunities: Consider conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the curriculum to identify areas where the workload can be reduced or streamlined without compromising the quality of education.

Better Tomorrow: Sustainable 2

Students expect that their supervisions will be assigned in a timely manner and not abruptly substituted with other alternative sessions that differ in format from their regular supervision sessions.

Barriers: Some students experience delays of up to five weeks before their supervisions are assigned, which poses challenges in catching up on accumulated backlog and adds additional stress to their daily lives.

Opportunities: Implement a streamlined process for assigning supervisions, ensuring that students receive their supervision schedules in a timely manner. Additionally, departments could offer additional and more flexible resources or support for students who experience delays in supervision assignments.

Better Tomorrow: Sustainable 3

Students hope for a more comprehensive and holistic design of university practices and structure, which take into account their academic journey and needs and is not dependent on individual staff members.

Barriers: While students have encountered supportive staff members throughout their academic journey, others have been less inclined to offer assistance or have exacerbated their precarious situation.

Opportunities: Address the fundamental structural mechanisms that contribute to the excessive dependence on individual staff members throughout students' academic journey at the university.

Better Tomorrow: Sustainable 4

Students hope to study in an environment that does not promote intense individual competition between students or further amplify their fear of failure and already ingrained high expectations.

Barriers: Receiving conflicting advice from academic staff and emphasising a constant striving for improvement or doing more work has contributed to the the students' fear of failure and self imposed pressure.

Opportunities: Promote consistent and cohesive guidance among academic staff and clear guidelines and expectations for students. Encourage regular communication among staff members (lecturers, DOS, supervisors) to align their advice and ensure a more robust approach to supporting student progress. Moreover, it is important to recognise that a student's ability to achieve a first class degree does not necessarily imply their desire or willingness to endure the associated pressure and workload.