Universities gripped by puppy mania

 Puppies for relaxation

It’s exam time and I’ve written before here about the advent of the puppy room as a means of addressing exam stress. All parts of the media seem to have got rather excited about this and other stress-busting approaches as this  BBC News story demonstrates:

 

Can be used for other purposes too

Can be used for other purposes too

University students have ordered hundreds of metres of bubble wrap to burst as a way of relieving exam stress.

The University of Leicester students’ union is planning “bubble wrap stations” where students can relax by popping the packaging material.

Puppies will also be brought in to soothe stressed-out students.

Michael Rubin, president elect of the students’ union, said “mental well-being is a top priority” during exams.

The students claim that the instant gratification of popping bubble wrap is a better relaxant than meditation or yoga.

Petting zoos

There will also be a more traditional form of emergency support, with free tea on offer.

“We know how stressful exams can be,” says Mr Rubin.

Nia Phillips, a media and sociology student, says many students “may feel too ashamed to speak out about exam stress”.

And she says that public events aimed at reducing stress can help students “without having to announce to anyone how they’re feeling”.

Petting zoos have become a feature of stress-busting during university exams.

 

puppies

Whilst there is perhaps an element of faddishness about this there is certainly a lot to be said for the approach and it does seem popular with students. Be prepared for the backlash though. It’s likely that for every student looking to relax with a puppy there will be another one outside demonstrating against animal cruelty.

Still, it’s something for the media to focus on before it’s time for the traditional A level fuss.

For straightforward (animal free) exam advice there is plenty about such as this University of Nottingham page.

 

 

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No stress in academia?

Professor ranked as one of the least stressful jobs.

Inside Higher Ed has a report on an annual work survey which again names Professor as a low-stress job.

This year’s report ranks university professor the No. 4 least-stressful job, behind audiologist, hair stylist and jeweler. Seamstress/tailor, dietician, medical records technician, librarian, multimedia artist and drill press operator round out the top 10 least stressful jobs. The No. 1 most stressful job is enlisted member of the military, followed by military general. Unlike last year – when adjunct professors pointed out that uncertain employment and low per-course pay were particularly stressful aspects of their jobs – the ranking notes that it refers specifically to tenured professors.

stress-1

The 11 factors considered  for each of the 200 careers reviewed are as follows:

  • Travel (the more travel, the higher the stress)
  • Growth potential (dead-end jobs tend to create more stress)
  • Deadlines
  • Working in the public eye
  • Competitiveness within the organization
  • Physical demands
  • Environmental conditions
  • Own life at risk
  • Hazards encountered
  • Meeting the public
  • Life of another is at risk

Given the criteria used it is perhaps not that surprising a result. However, it does not feel remotely accurate or seem at all like the other “low-stress” jobs ranked with it. Whilst academia is a long way from the most stressful jobs in front-line military roles the ranking here doesn’t quite seem to capture the realities of what can be highly challenging work.

Exam stress? Head for the puppy room

It’s furry therapy apparently.

yep. a puppy room

Indeed. A puppy room

Last year we heard that Dalhousie University in Canada had provided a puppy room to help students deal with exam stress. Now it seems that another university has joined in and, according to the Huffington Post, Aberdeen Students are also getting a puppy room to help them relax during revision:

Stressed out students at Aberdeen University in Scotland are going to be given a special room on campus to calm down with puppies during the exam period.

Aberdeen University’s Exam Welfare Initiative is teaming up with Guide Dogs For The Blind Association to offer the furry therapy after receiving positive feedback from students.

Emma Carlen, Aberdeen University’s president of societies and student activities, said in a statement: “We got a really positive reaction to that from both the guide dogs and the students, it really chilled them out, so that encouraged us to get this set up for the exam period.”

They are setting up a rooms on campus between the 13th and 23rd May. The university is also offering smoothie and apple give aways to calm stressed out students as well as onsite-massage at the library, yoga taster sessions a health walk on the beach.

Last October, researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan found that photos of kittens, puppies and the like don’t just make people feel better – they also help them to concentrate.

Don’t know what it will do for NSS scores but wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be an entry in this year’s Times Higher Education awards.