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Cambridge students expose “flaws” in University welfare support

University of Cambridge

Cambridge University’s welfare services have been blasted for failing to provide support to students suffering from severe mental stress.

Students at the university have taken to the social media site Facebook to expose the failings they claim in the institution’s welfare system.

Inspired by the Everyday Sexism Project, the group allows students to post their experiences with the welfare service anonymously, with stories varying from depression, eating disorders to sexual assault.

In the most recent post to the site last month, one student said: “During my first term here I suffered from crippling depression and was dealing with extreme thoughts of suicide.

“I sent a form into the University Counselling Service – clearly ticking the box that read ‘do you think you pose a risk of harm to yourself?’ – and they never got back to me.”

In a more shocking allegation, another student said: “There is a real rape culture among students in Cambridge – three of my very close friends have been sexually assaulted or raped by other students.

“There’s very little support available, beyond seeing the UCS and there are no real structures for getting the rapists thrown out. Colleges don’t want the bad publicity.

“Cambridge University just doesn’t care about its students.”

The student and alumni founders say they have received 50 testimonies since the project started in September.

Speaking to the News, one founder said: “Our campaign was born after a few of us were discussing welfare problems at the university.

“We were all alarmed to find that we had all had similar experiences. We had either encountered ignorance or, in some cases, active malice towards us when we had sought support.

“We will gather as many testimonies as possible, and use these testimonies to strategise as to how best to make change.

“What is clear from the current system is that it is not working, and that students deserve better.”

A university spokesman said: “Cambridge University and its colleges takes student mental health very seriously.

“Colleges and central services work closely together to direct students to appropriate sources of help.

“The level of support available to students at the University of Cambridge is unparalleled in most other universities.

“The UCS, which includes counsellors as well as mental health advisors, supplements the support available to students from the wider staff base and specialist staff.” (Cambridge News)

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