It’s not breaking news that the Coronavirus has caused havoc with the lives of students across the country. With most universities being cancelled until September, students are now unsure about what their future holds whilst struggling to continue with online teaching and unrealistic deadlines.
First years have had their freshers experience cut short, second-year students still have important assessments to complete and final year students don’t know whether they’ll even get their degree at all. Here’s how students from across the United Kingdom are dealing with the virus and how their lives have changed since their universities have closed.
Jessica Goddard – Nottingham Trent University
Going from living my best life at university to moving home and staying with my parents within a matter of days has been a struggle. Although I’m not sad about having to go back to my family home for the foreseeable future, I think the hardest thing about this situation is how sudden it has been. There was no time for proper goodbyes, no time for last nights out and I didn’t even have time to properly move out of my room.
I’m currently a second-year journalism student, so the majority of my upcoming assessments for this semester revolved around getting out into the community and attending events that were then cancelled. Along with stress over university and my assessments, I am also worried about my financial situation as I will not be returning to my part-time job in retail for a while. I understand that there could be worse things to deal with and I am thankful for my current health, however, non-students may find it difficult to understand how hard all this has hit us.
Rosie Healey – The University of Essex
The end of my final year should involve three months of hard graft followed by an extensive period of celebration before entering the world of work. Instead, the graft has doubled as academic resources become less and less available and any celebration will be on my own at home. I have missed out on final goodbyes to people I may never have the chance to meet again. The hardest hit is the cancellation of graduation which is meant to be a time to look back and be proud of everything I worked so hard to achieve, something I will never experience. These things wouldn’t be so bad had we’d been given a strong plan.
Whilst other universities are provided leniencies in terms of final grades, at Essex it has become every man for himself. Motivation is dwindling as achieving a first seems further out of reach than ever and the final hurdle becomes taller. It saddens me to know that I am at a huge disadvantage to both years before as if all the work has been for nothing. I will try to power through despite the circumstances and with no end of year celebrations to drive me.
Jacob Hopgood – Nottingham Trent University
It’s been a strange couple of weeks to be living in Nottingham whilst on my placement year. Once the lockdown was announced me and my flatmate faced the predicament of figuring out whether to hold up in Nottingham or flee to our family homes. Well, my flatmate went home after a week of uni being shut. As I’m working at Rushcliffe Borough Council for my placement year, I had to stay in Nottingham, due to the possibility that we would be redeployed to the front line services. This hasn’t happened yet as I’m in the Economic Growth team and we’ve been calling businesses to distribute the Government grants of £10k.
The biggest challenge has been adjusting to working from home as there are no colleagues to turn to for advice, especially for me as a placement student. Going for runs across the empty city centre has been very eerie. I still haven’t gotten used to the sight of an empty NTU tram stop and the deserted steps outside the Newton Building. I’m definitely looking forward to things going back to normal, however, increasingly it’s looking like that won’t be for quite a while.
Olivia Turner – The University of Cambridge
Having to finish first year prematurely has been a bit of a let-down. After just really getting settled into uni, everyone was looking forward to going back to Cambridge after Easter and enjoying the city in the nice weather, as well as studying and the formals and socials, and most importantly May ball after exams. For students on courses that are only three years long, losing a whole term at uni where terms are only eight weeks long is quite a lot, and the uni experience is something that will be really missed.
Furthermore, doing lectures and teaching ourselves from home is not always easy, especially as we usually have the benefit of supervision where we can ask all our questions. Luckily uni is providing all services online, but it isn’t always the same. The university has been very lenient with most exams, taking into account lost lectures and practical’s and the difficulty of some students having to work at home, as well as providing a safety net for final year students.
However, medics and vets, in particular, have been disappointed with the measures taken, as we have to return to university early in michelmas term and complete our exams. Although essays have been removed, we still have to revise a huge amount of content over the summer, which ruins any plans if lockdown is lifted. Moreover, from a welfare point of view, it is difficult to stay motivated for the six months needed to revise, especially as most students at most universities will have this long vacation mainly free.
For vets, in particular, this also disrupts plans for EMS that must be completed, as we have to find a balance between revising and completing the required 12 weeks of preclinical work experience before Easter in third year, something that will affect the second years in particular. Having to sit exams at such a time doesn’t give us reprieve before starting the intense terms again, and we don’t get a sense of celebration in finishing our exams. I understand that it is necessary that universities close and that staff have worked to try and provide the best solutions in the given circumstances, but I believe many people are disappointed and there is some debate as to whether the steps taken by the universities are the best solutions for all students, particularly for first and second-year students whose exams don’t really mean very much, except mainly to proceed to the next year.