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Ethics and values: what do students care most about in 2023?

We checked in with UK students to learn which issues are most important to them in 2023. Here’s what they had to say.

Healthcare is a top priority for students in 2023

Five years ago, healthcare might not have ranked so highly on students’ list of priorities. Fast forward to 2023, and it’s an issue that unites the majority of them – 86% list it as a cause that they care about.

Of course, this generation of students have seen the importance of healthcare first-hand: they lived through a global pandemic in their formative years, juggling isolation and health risks with A-levels and university applications. Within the wider bracket of healthcare, it’s important to focus on student mental health: Student Minds reported that almost half (45%) of students felt they needed extra mental health support in the pandemic, but did not get it.

Such an experience is likely to shape students’ worldview and priorities in the long-term. Indeed, as national focus shifts towards the employment rights of healthcare workers, 59% of students say they care about employment rights and strike action. It’s likely that their dedication to healthcare is more than just a passing trend – it will cement into a formative value that will feature throughout their lives.

Equality is important across the board

Gen Z are often regarded as the most tolerant generation to date – and this only intensifies when they enter a diverse space such as university. Three in four students say that they care about equality. Intersectionality is clearly very important to todays’ students: more than half of students care about LGBTQ+ rights, class, gender and race. But race equality is of particular importance to the student community as a whole: 72% of students list it as a concern.

Of course, students will have different experiences of racial diversity depending on which university they attend. Some of the most diverse universities include the University of Bradford and Queen Mary University, where more than 80% of students are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Meanwhile, at the Royal Agricultural University, just 1.4% of students come from ethnic minority backgrounds, and at Queen’s University Belfast they make up 4.3% of the student body.

Students’ Unions have long been champions of equality for all students, with the vast majority making inclusivity a major part of their strategies. This strong support for equality from students shows that your efforts are being well-received.

Sustainability will only continue to grow as a priority

It’s a focus increasingly important to all of us – and as younger generations bear the brunt of the environmental crisis, it should come as no surprise that students are champions of sustainability.
76% of students care about the environment, and 75% try to live sustainably.

native research shows that 76% of students care about the environment – and 3 in 4 make a conscious effort to live a sustainable lifestyle. On a more granular level, 90% recycle, 54% have phased out using single-use plastics, and 53% buy second-hand clothes and homewares.

It’s clear that students are converting their values into direct individual action – but they expect the same from the institutions that support and serve them, too. 47% of students have made an effort to only purchase from ethical and sustainable brands, and one in five are holding their employers accountable for their environmental and social impact. It should definitely be a priority for all student-facing organisations going forward.

Together, we can empower all students to meet their potential. Contact native today to discuss partnership opportunities.