Essential services

September 26, 2003

To extrapolate from the Effective Approaches report ("Well-being moves up the student retention agenda", THES, September 19) that a "one-stop-shop" model for student services departments will aid retention is a step too far. The issue is far more complex.

Indeed, my reading of the research finds no convincing argument for this approach. Part of the argument for a "one-stop-shop" model seems to be that students are deterred from seeking counselling because they have to go to a specific location. This conflicts with what happens at Sheffield Hallam University. When we were located in a busy joint student services environment, our annual survey consistently revealed that students found coming to a busy place when they were distressed disconcerting and uncomfortable.

So we made changes: we moved to a separate and discreet location. There has been no diminution in demand, and user feedback indicates that students prefer the new discreet location.

Vicky Seddon
Student Services Centre
Sheffield Hallam University

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