Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on New Approaches in Education
Professional challenges and recommendations for improving student counselling services in Croatia
Marina Milić Babić, Valentina Šipuš
Higher education has been high on the policy agenda in recent decades. The social dimension of education and the related social support for students aimed to raise the share of highly educated individuals and hence spur social development. In this respect, student counselling services act as an important mechanism of social support, notably considering a high risk of developing mental disorders for students and the objective to raise the quality of studies and graduation rates. Against the backdrop of dynamic social transformations and the growing diversity of the student population, student counselling services have become paramount. The present, qualitative research aimed to examine the challenges and obtain recommendations for improving the counselling practice from the perspective of professionals at student counselling services in Croatia. Research results indicated challenges concerning insufficient financial and human capacities, as well as tailoring counselling services to diverse student needs. In line with the research findings, the recommendations targeted human resource shortages; furthering prevention at counselling services, especially through training for the entire academic community; consulting with students to understand their needs and tailor counselling activities accordingly; networking among counselling services to share practices, enhance supervision, and initiate research to improve social support at higher education institutions; and finally, raising the professional standard of the counselling practice as a prerequisite of quality service provision.
keywords: students, mental health, social support, counselling services.