An annual survey of students suggests one in four feels lonely ‘often’ or ‘all of the time’.

The annual Unite Students Insight Report was compiled in partnership with the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi).

Students who feel high levels of isolation were more likely to feel dissatisfied with life, the report found. Just 57% of lonely students said they felt life was worthwhile, compared with 91% of students who weren’t lonely.

Over 2,500 students responded to the survey’s question about loneliness.

The percentage of students with a mental health condition has increased from 12% in 2016 to 17% in 2019, the survey reports.

According to the survey, students’ experiences with mental health services vary. The survey asked students to rate the quality, speed, continuity and impact of care as ‘better than’, ‘similar to’ or ‘worse than’ their expectations.

Without an idea of their expectations, it is hard to gauge student satisfaction with care from the data obtained. 78% of students said the impact of services was similar or better than their expectations but one in five said continuity and speed fell below their expectations.

A recent freedom of information (FoI) request, obtained by Sir Norman Lamb, found that the average student waits 52 days for mental health support. In the worst example revealed by the FoI request, students at the Royal College of Music had to wait 84 days on average.

Nick Hillman, director of Hepi, said the results show that students “recognise that life is a journey, with ups and downs”.

52% of students with a mental health condition say, ‘it’s something I need to deal with myself’ and 47% say ‘it is part of who I am’. 46% still say there is stigma attached to mental health conditions.

Participation rates in higher education continue to edge up, making this year’s student cohort the most diverse ever. According to data obtained from Ucas, the proportion of BAME applicants has risen to 24% from 21% last year. The proportion of applicants from low participation neighbourhoods has only inched up by 0.2%, though, from 11.4% to 11.6%.