Expectations and experiences of the transition out of university for students with mental health conditions

Eilidh Cage, Alana James, Victoria Newell, Rebecca M. Lucas

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The transition out of university can be a challenging time for undergraduate students, especially those with mental health conditions (MHC). Student mental health is a global concern, and metrics indicate lower employment rates for graduates with MHC. Little is known about the expectations and experiences of these students regarding this transition. This research used mixed methods to gather information on transition expectations prior to graduation (Study One), and experiences after graduation (Study Two). In Study One, 44 final year undergraduate students with MHC registered with their disability service and 50 without completed a survey, examining emotions and expectations of the transition. Study Two involved semi-structured interviews with seven graduates with MHC. Study One found students with MHC associated more negative emotions with the transition and were less likely to have a post-graduation plan but were not accessing more support than those without MHC. Study Two highlighted challenges faced when accessing support, the impact of mental health on transitions, and coping with change. These findings have implications for Higher Education providers in ensuring better support is available for the transition out of university for students with MHC. Specific support tailored to the needs of these students could help improve graduate outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-193
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Higher Education
  • post-university transition
  • student mental health

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