How do different communities of pharmacy students in the United Kingdom approach study and personal support?




Academic support, BAME, Ethnicity, Help-seeking, M.Pharm., Race, Sense of belonging, Well-being


Objectives: This study aimed to discover how a diverse pharmacy student population in the United Kingdom engages with academic and non-academic support, and what might prevent them from doing so.

Methods: Pharmacy students (in all years of study) completed an online survey seeking information on: demographics; confidence in studying; and where/how students seek academic and personal support. The survey outcomes were statistically analysed to compare differences between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and white students. 

Results: When seeking help from academic staff, 38.8% of BAME students felt they were negatively perceived. All students are significantly more likely to seek help for academic issues than for personal and well-being ones, with most students preferring to ask family and friends rather than university support mechanisms.

Conclusion: The results strongly indicate that support mechanisms present within universities to help students are seldom utilised and may explain the reduced academic performance of both white and BAME students.

Author Biographies

Fiona Ponikwer, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

School of Applied Sciences

Ugne Dunskute, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

School of Applied Sciences

Rumaysa Rafique , University of Brighton, United Kingdom

School of Applied Sciences

Bhavik Anil Patel, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

School of Applied Sciences


Alsubaie, M.M., Stain, H.J., Webster, L. A., & Wadman, R. (2019). The role of sources of social support on depression and quality of life for university students. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 24(4), 484-496

Arday, J. (2018). Understanding mental health: what are the issues for black and ethnic minority students at university? Social Sciences, 7(10), 196

Aronin, A. & Smith, M. (2018). One in four students suffer from mental health problems (online). YouGov. Available from:

Babal, J. C., Abraham, O., Webber, S., Watterson, T., Moua, P., & Chen, J. (2020). Student Pharmacist Perspectives of Factors that Influence Wellbeing during Pharmacy School. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education,

Bhopal, K. (2017). Addressing racial inequalities in higher education: equity, inclusion and social justice. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(13), 2293-2299

Bolton, P. (2020). Higher education student numbers. House of Commons Briefing Paper 7857. Available at:

Bowl, M. (2001). Experiencing the barriers: non-traditional students entering higher education. Research Papers in Education, 16(2), 141–160.

Bunce, L., King, N., Saran, S., & Talib, N. (2019). Experiences of black and minority ethnic (BME) students in higher education: applying self-determination theory to understand the BME attainment gap. Studies in Higher Education, 46(3) 1-14.

Bush, J. (2012). Entry Characteristics and Academic Performance of Students in a Master of Pharmacy Degree Program in the United Kingdom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 76(7), 126.

Butler, R., & Neuman, O. (1995). Effects of Task and Ego Achievement Goals on Help-Seeking. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Chowdhury, S., & Halder, S. (2019). Motivational facilitators and barriers of adaptive academic help-seeking: A systematic review. Indian Journal of Health and Well-being, 10(10-12), 324-333

Cotton, D.R., Joyner, M., George, R., & Cotton, P. (2016). Understanding the gender and ethnicity attainment gap in UK higher education. Innovations in education and teaching international, 53(5), 475-486

Crosling, G., Heagney, M., & Thomas, L. (2009). Improving Student Retention in Higher Education: Improving Teaching and Learning. Australian Universities Review., 51(2), 9-18

Douglas, B., Lewis, C. W., Douglas, A., Scott, M. E., & Garrison-Wade, D. (2008). The impact of white teachers on the academic achievement of black students: An exploratory qualitative analysis. Educational Foundations, 22, 47-62

Eisenberg, D., Golberstein, E., & Gollust, S.E. (2007). Help-seeking and access to mental health care in a university student population. Medical care, 594-601

Evans, J., Johnson, S., Jones, M., McConlogue, T., McClelland, A., Vitello, S., & Clayton, F. (2015). Black and Minority Ethnic Student Attainment at UCL. Think Pieces: A Journal of the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies, University College London, 1, 1-18

Fischbein, R., & Bonfine, N. (2019a). Pharmacy and Medical Students’ Mental Health Symptoms, Experiences, Attitudes and Help-Seeking Behaviors. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(10), 7558.

Fischbein, R., & Bonfine, N. (2019b). Pharmacy and medical students’ mental health symptoms, experiences, attitudes and help-seeking behaviors. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(10)

Gonida, E.N., Karabenick, S.A., Stamovlasis, D., Metallidou, P., & Greece, T.C.T.Y. (2019). Help seeking as a self-regulated learning strategy and achievement goals: The case of academically talented adolescents. High Ability Studies, 30(1-2), 147-166.

Gorczynski, P., Sims-Schouten, W., Hill, D., & Wilson, J.C. (2017). Examining mental health literacy, help seeking behaviours, and mental health outcomes in UK university students. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

Grant-Vallone, E., Reid, K., Umali, C., & Pohlert, E. (2003). An Analysis of the Effects of Self-Esteem, Social Support, and Participation in Student Support Services on Students' Adjustment and Commitment to College. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 5(3), 255-274.

Gulliver, A., Griffiths, K.M., & Christensen, H. (2010). Perceived barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking in young people: a systematic review. BMC psychiatry, 10(1), 113.

Heerde, J.A., & Hemphill, S. A. (2018). Examination of associations between informal help-seeking behavior, social support, and adolescent psychosocial outcomes: A meta-analysis. Developmental Review, 47, 44-62

Hoffman, M., Richmond, J., Morrow, J., & Salomone, K. (2002). Investigating “sense of belonging” in first-year college students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 4(3), 227-256

Jabbar, A., Teviotdale, W., Mirza, M., & Mswaka, W. (2020). Academics’ perspectives of international students in UK higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(3), 350-364

Kitzrow, M.A. (2003). The Mental Health Needs of Today's College Students: Challenges and Recommendations. NASPA Journal, 41(1), 167-181

Krause, K.-L. (2005). Serious thoughts about dropping out in first year : trends, patterns and implications for higher education. Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development, 2(3), 55-68

Lewis, E.G., & Cardwell, J.M. (2019). A comparative study of mental health and wellbeing among UK students on professional degree programmes. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(9), 1226-1238

Lin, K.-M., & Cheung, F. (1999). Mental health issues for Asian Americans. Psychiatric Services, 50(6), 774-780

Lundberg, C.A., & Schreiner, L.A. (2004). Quality and frequency of faculty-student interaction as predictors of learning: An analysis by student race/ethnicity. Journal of College Student Development, 45(5), 549-565

Moore, J., Sanders, J., & Higham, L. (2013). Literature review of research into widening participation to higher education. Report to HEFCE and OFFA. AimHigher Research & Consultancy Network

OfS (Office for Students). (2020). English higher education 2020: The Office for Students annual review (online). Available from:

Payakachat, N., Gubbins, P.O., Ragland, D., Norman, S.E., Flowers, S. K., Stowe, C.D., DeHart, R.M., Pace, A., & Hastings, J.K. (2013). Academic help-seeking behavior among student pharmacists. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(1), 7-7.

Pickford, R. (2016). Student engagement: Body, mind and heart–a proposal for an embedded multi-dimensional student engagement framework. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 4(2)

Ray, M.E., Coon, J.M., Al-Jumaili, A.A., & Fullerton, M. (2019). Quantitative and Qualitative Factors Associated with Social Isolation Among Graduate and Professional Health Science Students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(7), 6983.

Reay, D. (2003). A Risky Business? Mature Working-class Women Students and Access to Higher Education Correspondence. Gender and Education, 15(3), 301-317.

Rockich-Winston, N., & Wyatt, T.R. (2019). The Case for Culturally Responsive Teaching in Pharmacy Curricula. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(8), 7425.

Russo-Gleicher, R. (2013). Qualitative insights into faculty use of student support services with online students at risk: Implications for student retention. Journal of Educators Online, 10(1), 1-32

Ryan, A.M., Hicks, L., & Midgley, C. (1997). Social goals, academic goals, and avoiding seeking help in the classroom. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 17(2), 152-171

Smith, S. (2017). Exploring the black and minority ethnic (BME) student attainment gap: what did it tell us? Actions to address home BME undergraduate students’ degree attainment. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5(1)

Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of personality and social psychology, 69(5), 797

Stevenson, J. (2012). Black and minority ethnic student degree retention and attainment. Higher Education Academy

Thomas, L. (2001). Power, Assumptions and Prescriptions: A Critique of Widening Participation Policy-Making. Higher Education Policy, 14, 361-376.

Webb, O., & Cotton, D. (2018). Early withdrawal from higher education: a focus on academic experiences. Teaching in Higher Education, 23(7), 835-852

White, M.C. (2011). Predicting Success in Teacher Certification Testing: The Role of Academic Help Seeking. Online Submission, 7(1), 24-44




How to Cite

Ponikwer, F., Dunskute, U., Rafique , R., & Patel, B. A. (2022). How do different communities of pharmacy students in the United Kingdom approach study and personal support?. Pharmacy Education, 22(1), p. 584–594.



Research Article