From unhappy student to Professor of Law: Professor Bleasdale draws on her own experiences in new book about student support

Professor Lydia Bleasdale has just published her new edited book: How to Offer Effective Wellbeing Support to Law Students. It will be launched on Thursday 11 July 2024 at the Liberty Building.

The Introduction of How to Offer Effective Wellbeing Support to Law Students pays homage to the personal tutor assigned to Professor Bleasdale when she was a struggling and unhappy Law student at Leeds. That tutor, the wonderful Professor Nick Taylor, became the reason she completed her degree, and her personal anecdotes underscore how vitally important effective student support is to each individual student.

The book's mission is to give insights into how to ‘proactively support students, in combination with professional services colleagues, within the classroom, on campus and online, and within the broader curriculum.’ It views student support as not just something that is applied after something ‘goes wrong’, but rather something that should be integrated within inclusive teaching and assessment.

Professor Bleasdale has worked with contributors ranging across the student support landscape (at the University of Leeds as well as at other institutions), including student support officers and academics at all stages of their careers, ensuring that the book has a variety of voices and opinions.

Within the text, student support is viewed through the lens of race, gender, disability, age, and class, as well as considering the intersecting identities a student may have, such as: ‘home’ or ‘international’ student; student-carer, commuter-student, student-worker, and other underrepresented or minoritised identities.

Contributor Associate Professor Rachael O’Connor says:

It is vital that we acknowledge and celebrate the intersectional identities of staff and students in higher education, which this book absolutely does. There really is no “one size fits all” when it comes to supporting law students (or any students!) which makes it a very difficult topic to give concrete guidance on. However, through its diverse representation of authors, topics and under-represented identities, this book does a fantastic job of encouraging people working with law students to question their current approaches, to be more reflective and to think more inclusively and meaningfully about the support they provide.

Associate Professor in Legal Education and University Lead for Personal Tutoring

There is also an insistence that those providing the support know the ‘limits of [their] role and abilities’. Student support is described as a ‘village’, and she dedicates a chapter to interviewing the (multi-award winning) School of Law Student Support Team so that academics can learn from their experiences in supporting students.

Contributor Max Broady says:

When it comes to student support, there are already robust policies and structures in place within the University. It's important to include the relevant professional services when handling student support cases. We can help with advice on specific cases, refer APTs to the correct procedure, or signpost to other services. Academics do not need to deal with this alone.

Student Support Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences

Filled with insights, interviews, case studies, personal anecdotes, research, example scenarios, and contributions from some of the best-placed professionals in the field, the book will be a valuable companion for anyone seeking to develop their understanding of effective student support.

The launch is on Thursday 11 July at the School of Law.  A light lunch will be followed by a roundtable discussion with Professor Bleasdale and her authors, with plenty of opportunity for audience input.

Professor Bleasdale is a member of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education and recently organised the wildly successful Connections in Legal Education Fest.

She can be found on X/Twitter: @Parkendlydia