Majority of students considering leaving university - NZUSA

More than half of students are considering leaving tertiary study according to a new survey, citing the stresses of living with mental illness and a fear of failing.

Nearly 2000 students responded to the New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) survey, which was commissioned to better understand the trigger factors of mental health issues at university.

Kii Small says his mental health deteriorated in his first year at university three years ago, and he's now managing depression.

"You find yourself sad and you wonder why you're sad or why you're locked inside your own head," he told Newshub.

His move from Kaitaia to Wellington contributed to that, along with other stresses like financial instability and learning to live "in the outside world".

"You wonder if you can do this and I ask myself that every year."

According to the NZUSA survey, Mr Small is like 56 percent of respondents, saying they've considered leaving university because of mental illness, a fear of failing or overwhelming stress.

NZUSA president Jonathan Gee told Newshub: "They're not having enough money to live so they have to work more hours, but then when they're working more hours they're doing worse in their studies and they wonder why they're doing the degree they're doing, and then they're wondering if they're going to get the job at the end of it."

Mr Gee says having a student on the Government's inquiry panel into mental health is reassuring.

Josiah Tualamali'i has put his studies on hold this year to offer the panel a student perspective.

"Universities and tertiary campuses maybe need to better understand or look at what wellbeing is from a student point of view. That's something we've heard really strongly," Mr Tualamali'i says.

Mr Small says he has more support now than in his first two years, but he still battles with mental health issues every day. Nevertheless, he's determined to finish his studies.