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“Last year, I sort of like fell through the net, just because I had circumstances that they didn’t really notice. Like, I stopped showing up. Nobody noticed. My friend as well: similar circumstances, she stopped showing up, she stopped submitting assignments, nobody noticed.

There’s a lot to unpack in that focus group quote from the UPP Foundation’s terrific and yet disturbing Student Futures 2 report. When the (21 year old, female, psychology, research intensive university, home) student says that “nobody” noticed, does she mean nobody employed by the university, or nobody at all?

Given she mentions her “friend”, the natural thing to do is to assume the former – and to assume that either smaller class sizes or learner analytics might solve the problem. But is it even a problem? Isn’t the “growing up” bit of university all about it not being like school where someone would check up on you? When I was a student…

We can go round in circles forever on questions like that – I certainly have done ever since I started tracking (and sometimes commissioning) research on community and loneliness back in 2019 – but what’s clear is how important feeling part of things is to students across the board.

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