Mental health funding competition

Higher education providers can bid for funding to explore innovative and intersectional approaches to target mental health support for students.

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided £1 million of investment to the Office for Students for this funding competition.

The aims of this competition are to:

  • explore innovative approaches to tackling some of the barriers and challenges faced by groups of students who may be more at risk of poor mental health
  • develop and test approaches that enable a more joined up service between the higher education and health sectors
  • test and share effective practice across a wide range of different providers and contexts
  • complement existing work delivered through our 2018 mental health Challenge Competition and provide additional focus on particular groups of students.

How to apply for funding

All providers registered with the OfS in the Approved (fee cap) registration category are eligible to apply for this funding. Other providers can be involved in proposals as part of a collaboration.

Please read our bidding guidance for full information of how to apply for funding and eligibility criteria.

Read our bidding guidance

Additional information

Bids should deliver innovative and targeted activities that address the following priority groups:

  • particular groups of students with characteristics identified as increasing the risk of poor mental health (for example ethnicity, socioeconomic background)
  • groups of students who might experience barriers to accessing support due to their course, mode of study, or other characteristics (for example those on placements, commuters, mature students, part-time students, postgraduate taught students, international students, first in family, carers, care leavers, LGBT+).

Providers should consider:

  • demonstration of a whole provider approach with senior leadership commitment
  • delivery of value for money
  • creation or progression of strategic, collaborative partnerships that include appropriate levels of co-investment
  • co-creation with students at the heart of your interventions
  • development of an innovative approach, which could include digital approaches
  • a rigorous approach to project design and embedded evaluation
  • integration of service offering between the higher education and the health sector.

We will not fund the essential support services which providers should already be making available for their students. We are seeking proposals that will achieve a significant change above and beyond existing commitments.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is there a maximum amount of funding or number of projects that will be funded?

There is £1 million available for this competition. We are seeking high-quality proposals providing additional activity to address the priority areas.

The final number of funded projects will depend on the quality of bids received, available funding, and the judgements and recommendations made through the assessment process.

2. Is there a minimum and maximum level of funding a provider can apply for?

Individual awards will be made at a minimum of £70,000 and up to a maximum of £200,000. We anticipate funding a number of projects to explore the widest range of interventions and activities across the broadest portfolio possible.

3. Is full economic costing required?

No, but you may use this methodology if you wish to do so. All project costs (and the basis on which they are calculated) must be clear and understandable as these will be considered as part of the assessment process. All costs must be reasonable, particularly for the funding sought from us.

4. Is co-investment a requirement?

Co-investment is a requirement for this competition and should be appropriate to the scale of the project. However to encourage a broad range of providers to consider bidding for funding through this competition, this can take the form of in-kind contribution both from the lead provider and from partners named in the bid. This should be fully detailed and costed in the project budget as part of the bid submission so that we can understand the cash value of any in-kind contributions.

5. Can other organisations apply for this funding?

Other organisations can be partners in proposals, but the project lead must be a higher education provider that is eligible for OfS funding.

Bids will need to demonstrate clearly what all partners will contribute to the project, the nature and scope of their involvement, the investment they are contributing and how the collaborations will work successfully, if funded.

6. Do projects have to be collaborative?

Yes. We expect all projects to have at least one partner, but this does not have to be another higher education provider. For example, partners could include health agencies and third sector organisations.

The proposal must be coherent with all partners having a strategic interest in the activities and there must be full commitment to the project, and co-investment as appropriate.

7. Could a provider from a devolved nation be included as a strategic partner?

Yes. However, funding can only be provided to higher education providers based in England and meeting the eligibility requirements. Therefore, any provider from a devolved nation involved in the bid could not receive any of this funding and would have to fund any commissioned activity separately.

8. Can providers be involved in more than one bid?

Providers may only submit and lead one bid and may be involved in one further bid as a partner.

9. My bid has exceeded the page limit. What are the consequences?

Our assessors and the panel will reserve the right to stop reading proposals if they exceed the page limit.

10. Does every proposal have to cover all key priority groups of students?

No. Where appropriate and realistic proposals can cover more than one priority, but this is not an expectation. We encourage bids to be focused in their approach and do not expect them to cover all groups of students within a particular priority area. Rather, we want to see evidence-based, innovative bids focused on a particular group of students

11. How will providers be informed of bid outcomes?

This funding competition is currently paused – dates for all activity will be confirmed.

12. When do projects need to start by?

This funding competition is currently paused – dates for all activity will be confirmed.

13. When do projects have to complete by?

This funding competition is currently paused – dates for all activity will be confirmed.

14. What monitoring requirements will be involved?

Interim project monitoring reports will focus on progress against key criteria, objectives, impact and milestones, financial accountability and risk management. The end of project report will also seek information on the learning and key outcomes derived from the project, even if these will run beyond the funding period.

As indicated in the competition documentation, all funded projects must be involved in evaluation and dissemination activities undertaken by the OfS and/or the Department of Health and Social Care. Further information on monitoring and evaluation requirements will be set out in grant award letters.

Contact us

If you’d like to find out more about this funding competition or have any questions, please contact [email protected] or our general enquries line on 0117 931 7317.

Published 05 March 2020
Last updated 23 March 2020
23 March 2020
Funding competition paused

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