The Duchess of Cambridge visited university students to find out how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on the start of their life in higher education.

Duchess Catherine

Duchess Catherine

Duchess Catherine spent time with first years at the University of Derby on Tuesday (06.10.20) to find out how they are being looked after at the facility, following a surge in outbreaks of the virus at over 50 universities in the UK which saw the National Union of Students (NUS) warned undergraduates being "trapped in halls" to contain the illness could exacerbate mental health issues.

The 38-year-old royal spoke to representatives of charity Student Minds, about the current situation, and asked if there had been an "increase in awareness" about mental health from the students and it been "integrated" into their education.

She then chatted with students, who told her how they had "kept busy" during lockdown.

However, while talking to Husna Hanif and Laura Oliver, both 18, they admitted it had been "hard not seeing friends".

Catherine asked if the university offered enough support, to which Laura replied: "There's so much support."

The duchess said: "That's great to hear."

Catherine also got to hear about Student Minds' new initiative, Student Space, which offers help and information via both phone and text and has been set up in partnership from Shout, which was launched by her and husband Prince William's Heads Together mental health campaign.

The duchess braved the rain with a university-branded umbrella to speak to soccer players about the way sports societies on campus had been trained so students can support their teammates and told them how she "loved" that mental health work had been "integrated" into university life.

And Catherine also met with nursing students, where she learned the first years had been paired with students in the year above in order to provide them with peer support during tough clinical placements.