Nearly Half of Students are Stressed at UK Universities

Nearly Half of Students are Stressed at UK Universities

Sabrina Collier

Updated September 4, 2023 Updated September 04

The results of the Natwest Student Living Index 2019 have been released, based on a survey of 3,604 students at UK universities, and demonstrate that almost half (45 percent) are feeling stressed by their course. The survey also found that only 41 percent of students on average are enjoying their degree, with the highest levels of enjoyment found at Aberystwyth University, where 58 percent of students said they’re enjoying themselves. (Arguably, they could be enjoying themselves a little too much, as Aberystwyth students spend the most on alcohol in the UK).

Low stress levels at the University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews was the best out of the surveyed UK universities for stress levels, with only 22 percent of students reporting feeling stressed. St Andrews was also in the top five when looking at the percentage of students enjoying their university course, at 47 percent.

This is despite the fact that St Andrews students spend one the largest amounts of hours per month on studying in the country, only behind Oxford and Cambridge students. This year’s survey had found that students on average are spending nine hours more a month studying compared to 2018, and two hours less on socializing, but it seems that students at St Andrews have largely found the right balance between studies and socializing.

The excellent availability of mental health services also likely plays a part in the low stress levels at St Andrews, with students there the most satisfied with these services out of any other UK university at 47 percent – far higher than the national average.

Stress levels were similarly low at fellow Scottish universities Stirling and Aberdeen at 30 and 33 percent respectively, while in a stark contrast, 60 percent of students at the University of Cambridge reported feeling stressed (the highest in the UK), with similarly high rates of stress at fellow prestigious UK universities Oxford and Durham, demonstrating that students at these institutions may be feeling a great deal of pressure to maintain high grades as well as balancing a social life.

Students dissatisfied with mental health services overall

With so many students feeling stressed and overwhelmed during university, it’s all the more important for UK universities to provide accessible and reliable mental health support services for students all year round. However, only 23 percent of UK students are satisfied with the mental health resources available at their university.

The stats were particularly discouraging at the University of Bristol, with just 14 percent of students satisfied with the services available. And in the wake of a stream of devastating student suicides at Bristol over recent years, it is more imperative than ever for students to be given access to the help they need when the stress of their studies and other personal issues becomes too much.

At Bristol, it seems the issue is actually a matter of the quantity rather than quality of mental health services available, with services becoming particularly stretched during Fresher’s Week and exam periods. In December 2018, in response to students’ campaigns for better services, the University of Bristol launched a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

The strategy was implemented based on contributions from staff and students, with Bristol’s Student Union encouraging students to get involved in shaping the services that directly affect them – so if you’re feeling frustrated with the mental health services available at your university, it’s important to speak up and get your voice heard to affect change.

This article was originally published in August 2019 . It was last updated in September 2021

Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 


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