UCLan Students’ Union partners with Burnley woman's social platform Umii to reduce student loneliness

A Burnley woman who created an app to combat student loneliness at university has seen it taken on by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

By Dominic Collis
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:45 pm

Founded by Georgia Wheadon, Umii is a university-based connections app, that helps students to make friends at university. Whether they are a new student wanting to connect with people ahead of term time or just looking to expand their social circle, Umii connects students at university based on their course, societies and interests.

The University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union, which has been working to combat student loneliness, has been partnered with the student connections app, Umii, for over a year to do just that.

A recent study by Cambridge University shows that 75% of their students feel lonely on a daily or weekly basis. Some 62% of Umii users report feeling less isolated after using the app.

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Georgia Wheadon, founder of the Umii app

The Umii app was developed to initiate student connections, combat loneliness, increase retention and academic success, after Georgia herself suffered from loneliness at university.

Allocated a small flat as a first year, with people whose interests completely differed from hers, she felt unable to connect. Her course was a joint honours, meaning she was with different people every day at lectures. After having an accident that made her temporarily housebound, she was completely unable to meet new people, and her self-confidence and mental health began to suffer.

She said: “My university experience is what made me so passionate about solving student loneliness. We all know that university is much more than the academic side - I don’t want anyone to have the same feelings that I did.

"I want Umii to act as a preventative measure to isolation and loneliness, by giving students a place for lasting peer to peer relationships to be built. I’m delighted that we are launching it in Lancashire.”

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Students at UCLan are using the Umii app to create their own bespoke, secure profile - adding their course, interests and societies to match and meet with others. When users sign up to the app, their profile will be verified by the university to ensure the connections are genuine and students are safeguarded.

Zuleikha Chikh, the Students’ Union president, said: “Supporting student friendships and creating a sense of belonging plays a big role in our 2021-24 Union strategy. We believe loneliness has a negative impact on students staying at university and completing their courses. Providing opportunities for students to meet other like-minded students helps build a sense of belonging. As a member-based organisation that puts students first, we believe we have a big role to play to support this; using all tools available to us.”

Since launching the app at UCLan SU, 2,000 UCLan students have used the platform, sending over 28,000 messages between them.

Jenifer, who started using the App in 2021, said: “Umii helped with my transition to university because it made me more open and confident. I am quite an introverted person so I find introducing myself to new people intimidating but Umii broke this barrier for me.”

The app is available on Google Play and the App store and free for all UCLan students.