EUniWell Policy Commission publishes final report on COVID-19’s impact on youth well-being

08/15/2023 | by Dr Paul Vallance | Birmingham Corona

The final report from the first EUniWell Policy Commission has been published. This Commission, led by the University of Birmingham on behalf of EUniWell, explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being of young people (15-24-year-olds) across Europe and identified forward-looking policy lessons for universities and governments.

The photo shows a group of young people wearing medical masks alongside everyday clothes. They are walking towards the camera on a paved path, with autumnal trees to the right and left along the way.
Covid has arguably hit young people hardest, disrupting their learning and entry into working life, and effecting their mental health, well-being and future life chances. Image source: University of Birmingham.

The EUniWell Policy Commission has published its final report. Launched in June 2020 to explore and understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on different groups of young people, the Alliance’s first Policy Commission brought together leading figures from the public, private and third sectors together with EUniWell academics. For its final report, the Policy Commission considered evidence from a broad range of sources to produce policy recommendations relating to young people and post COVID-19 recovery.

The report addresses two lines of enquiry developed in consultation with a group of policy commissioners from EUniWell universities and their associate partners: The first line of enquiry investigated the uneven effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on different groups of young people in terms of their educational outcomes, labour market opportunities, housing and living conditions, mental well-being, and future life and career planning. The second line of enquiry explored how universities can work with partners from the public, private, and civil society sectors to address the above impacts as they bear on their own students, but also young people still at school and those who do not enter or complete higher education. 

A call for evidence relating to these lines of enquiry received submissions of research findings and institutional practices from across the EUniWell Alliance. These submissions, along with supplementary evidence from the wider academic and grey literature, were reviewed in three interrelated areas: impacts of the pandemic on i) young people in education (secondary and tertiary), ii) young people in (and out of) employment, and iii) the mental health of young people.

The second half of the report considers the implications of the evidence review for policymakers and universities across Europe. This highlights the potential for the impacts experienced by young people through the COVID-19 pandemic to have longer-term effects on their life chances and well-being in a context marked by growing pressures on the cost of living. Seven policy lessons are developed from this discussion:

  1. Focus on the legacy of the pandemic for young people;
  2. Build on EU training and employment support programmes;
  3. Prioritise the well-being of young people in the post-pandemic recovery;
  4. Engage young people in shaping their future;
  5. Commission longitudinal research into the effects of the pandemic;
  6. Support the mental health of (higher education) students;
  7. Leverage the civic role of universities to support all young people.


Further information

Download the full Policy Commission Report here: 24708_EUniWell_Policy_Report_DIGITAL.pdf




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