Students with mental health problems are waiting up to 12 weeks for help from their university, figures reveal.
Sir Norman Lamb, the ex-health minister who obtained the data, said long delays for care for conditions such as anxiety and depression could prove seriously damaging to undergraduates.
“Twelve-week delays to start counselling are scandalous, particularly when we know that so many students are taking their own lives,” he said.
He warned that students suffering from mental health conditions often need help as a matter of real urgency.
“The risk is that their mental welfare will decline even further while they wait and wait for care and support,” he added.
One in four universities have cut or frozen their budgets for student mental health, the data suggests.
An estimated 95 students in higher education took their own lives in the 12 months to July 2017 in England and Wales.
Reported student mental ill-health has increased five-fold since 2010.
Tom Madders, campaigns director at the charity YoungMinds, told the Guardian that for some people, starting university can be a stressful experience.
John de Pury, assistant director of policy at Universities UK, added: “Universities provide a range of mental health services – not just counselling – to support students. We are encouraging all higher education providers not just to do more of what they have been doing but to review existing support and to design and resource appropriate services based on need. They should widen their approach to include prevention and early intervention.”