The university has concluded that the classes did not meet requirements for “scale, impact and efficacy”, despite research that demonstrates the benefit of such coursesLouis Ashworth for Varsity

The university has cancelled its “mindfulness skills for students programme”, which has run since 2015 and been used by over 2,500 students.

Cambridge alumni have signed an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Deborah Prentice, calling for the classes to be reintroduced. The programme helped them to navigate the “relentless” pressures placed on students at the University, they said.

Mindfulness is a practice that encourages an intentional focus on the present moment without evaluation or judgment.

Charlotte Hofton, a graduate of Lucy Cavendish College, described the programme as a life-saver. “I cannot comprehend why anybody should suppose that the mindfulness project, whose benefits are utterly proven, should cease”, they told The Guardian.

Dr Rowan Williams, former Master of Magdalene College and former Archbishop of Canterbury told The Guardian: “The most effective way of responding [to concerns around student mental health], is not instantly to ‘medicalise’ all the problems but to provide tools that will genuinely help young people care for themselves and develop habits of self-understanding and self-awareness”.

“The mindfulness programme has offered exactly this, and I think the ending of support for it is very bad news indeed,” Williams said.

In response to the campaign to save the programme, a university spokesperson said: “We have a responsibility to routinely evaluate our services to ensure their effectiveness in supporting students. The centrally run mindfulness classes were brought to an end following careful consideration of their scale, impact and efficacy”.

This decision has been made despite the University’s own research suggesting the benefit of such courses. A study assessing the benefits of mindfulness programmes on mental health, led by Dr Julieta Galante and published in July of this year, found conclusive evidence that “adults who voluntarily take part in mindfulness courses are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression for at least six months after completing the programmes, compared to adults who do not take part”.


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The news of this cancellation comes as student welfare is facing college-level cuts, though the university spokesperson stressed that the cancellation of the mindfulness programme is not due to financial reasons.

Referring to the University’s Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan 2022-2025, the spokesperson claimed Cambridge was “committing £4.75m to student mental health services” over this period.

“We offer a wide range of student support including counselling, wellbeing and mental health, harassment and violence, and accessibility and disability support services, alongside additional academic and wellbeing support available to students via their college”, said the University.