The Wellbeing of Architects: Report on Focus Groups with Students

Monash University


This report presents the findings of a series of focus groups conducted with students studying architecture in April 2022. The topic of discussion was how their wellbeing was affected by their study, and what suggestions they had for improving the wellbeing of people studying architecture.

Themes that emerged out of these sessions included studio culture – norms, expectations, pressure and passion; personal concessions and sacrifice; equity and empathy; identity and affiliation; independence and support; autonomy and growth; and self-comparison. There were also broader explorations of structural processes, models and support mechanisms, as well as suggestions for improving wellbeing for students of architecture.

Download the report here

Executive Summary of findings
The focus group findings assert that there are areas of genuine concern for the wellbeing of higher education students within architectural disciplines. These findings also provide insight into the aspects of architectural studies that allow students to thrive and what might help improve the wellbeing of architectural students.

The participants were able to identify a range of aspects of their studies that had a positive impact on their wellbeing. These broadly related to strong social cohorts and communities, individual autonomy and identity, and experiencing growth, self-actualisation and achievement. Participants wrestled with the tension between these aspects’ producing both positive
and negative outcomes for their wellbeing.

Social aspects and ‘studio culture’ constituted the core of students’ expositions within the focus groups. The culture was pivotal in shaping their past experiences and presented opportunities for what might be done differently in the future.

Participants suggested that the community could be a source of support, inspiration and motivation but also serve as a stressor, sometimes prompting negative self-appraisal, fuelling anxiety and leading many students to become overwhelmed or exhausted by perceived pressure and expectations.

The focus groups provided a space for participants to dive into the complexities of studying architecture students illustrated how cultural factors morphed into experiences that were more or less positive, depending on a myriad of contexts.

The students who participated in the focus groups expressed a desire for improved wellbeing for people who work and study in the architectural industry. Participants expressed a concern for barriers to wellbeing, whilst remaining optimistic that there was capacity to improve the culture of architecture in Australia.