Vice-Chancellor’s statement on recent student deaths

Vice-Chancellor’s statement on recent student deaths

  • The front of Senate House

You may have seen the news about the tragic deaths of five Cambridge students over recent months. Like everyone else in the alumni community and collegiate University, I am deeply saddened by them. At this distressing time, our community’s thoughts remain with the families and friends of the students who have died. The safety of our students is of fundamental importance to the University and the Colleges.

The University has set out the work it is doing to review these tragic events, as well as its plans to support student health and wellbeing. We continue to work closely with the Colleges, and with our partners in public health, including the NHS.

The collegiate nature of our University ensures that different sources of support are available to students: through the Colleges in which they live and study, and where they have access to extensive welfare provision; through the University and the professional student services it provides; and through the NHS.  

The University and the Colleges are focused on providing extensive wellbeing and mental health support for students. We continue to work together to develop and deliver this. 

In 2020, we launched the development of a new strategy and action plan to enhance the support for mental health and wellbeing already available for students across the collegiate University. Investment is rising to over £5m per year, following significant additional investment by the University in this work. To further enhance provision, the University and the Colleges are now putting in place:

  • Increased investment into the University Counselling Service, the Mental Health Advice Service, and the Student Wellbeing Team to reduce waiting times and help ensure that preventative support for students is easily available and accessible.
  • Dedicated wellbeing advisors in Colleges to enhance the support already available and focus on better enabling early identification of students in distress, as well as training in suicide awareness for frontline staff.
  • Closer links and information exchange through a new partnership with the NHS – also involving our neighbour university, Anglia Ruskin – to ensure that our students are receiving the clinical support they need for their mental health.
  • Our collegiate University is a caring and compassionate community, and never more than at times of sorrow. I know that the Cambridge community is deeply committed to supporting student mental health and wellbeing, and to ensuring student safety.

Professor Stephen J Toope