Student counselling pioneer honoured at Keele
What is now taken for granted within Keele and beyond, was once an exciting new development and it’s important to recognise Audrey’s early work in not only creating a counselling service at Keele but for her enthusiasm and energy which helped to create British Association for Counselling.
A woman who brought student counselling to UK universities 50 years ago will be honoured by having a building named after her.
The Counselling Building at Keele University has been renamed the Newsome Building in recognition of Audrey Newsome, who worked at Keele from 1963 to 1984, and founded its pioneering Counselling Service in 1964.
Audrey will be welcomed back to Keele by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Foskett, when she returns for the official re-naming ceremony on 14th April 2015.
Audrey Newsome first came to the University of Keele in 1963 to lead the Appointments Office (Careers). Keele had barely 1,000 students – all of them resident on campus - and the university was testing many new approaches to higher education. In January 1964, at the request of the Vice-Chancellor Dr Harold M Taylor, Audrey submitted a paper to The University outlining the possibility of developing an innovative personal counselling service. The plan was approved and Audrey completed professional training at the world-leading Colombia University before returning to start the first service of its kind at any UK university.
This advance took place in the wider context of the “Keele Experiment”, which saw the new University breaking new ground, especially with its distinctive four year degree structure. At that time, Universities still acted in loco parentis over students aged under 21, sometimes creating anomalous situations for staff and students, who were still legally minors before the law shifted the age of majority to 18 in 1970.
Audrey’s report noted;
“If the student is to make the most effective use of the educational and social facilities at Keele and the most effective use of himself after he graduates he must be helped to cope with the ‘secondary’ but more fundamental problems.”
Looking back over 50 years, these original concepts, which viewed students with a broader and more open perspective, are still very much alive at Keele University, and they have since been adopted by almost every UK University. In 1974 Audrey Newsome and her team published ‘Student Counselling in Britain’ which outlined their experiences and strongly influenced the development of similar services in many universities.
Mark Fudge, current Head of Student Wellbeing at Keele, recognised her achievements:
“Meeting Audrey recently reminds me of the uniqueness and bravery within the early work Audrey undertook in creating the service at Keele. Many of the concepts of supporting students to attain academically and to develop as humans and as graduates still inform a philosophy which underpins our service 50 years later. What is now taken for granted within Keele and beyond, was once an exciting new development and it’s important to recognise Audrey’s early work in not only creating a counselling service at Keele but for her enthusiasm and energy which helped to create British Association for Counselling (now BACP) and many services across the UK and beyond.”
In 2015 Keele welcomes over 10,000 students from all parts of the world and the Counselling Service sees around 7% of the university population, offering a comprehensive range of services and support.