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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Occupational health


Social support is consistently associated with positive outcomes for students, in terms of wellbeing and academic achievement. For first year students, social support offers a way to deal with stressors associated with the challenge of transitioning to university. The current research was conducted with a range of first year students (n = 315) early in their first semester in university. Both male and female students reported moderate levels of social support and perceived stress, while those with higher levels of social support reported lower levels of stress. Gender differences were apparent in both the levels and sources of social support that students perceived as available to them. Female students reported higher levels of social support and stress than males, suggesting that university initiatives for enhancing social support and dealing with stress may require a gender-specific focus. The results are discussed in terms of recommendations for developing students’ social supports during first year, in order to mitigate for the experience of stress and to enhance student experience of their educational journey.