Let’s face it, everyone wanted to avoid another lockdown, yet here we are. Days are short, nights are long, and everyone is restless with the stay at home routine but if we want to protect the NHS and ultimately save lives then it is the right thing to do. The problem is that the government has consistently overlooked the student demographic since the beginning of the pandemic. And we’re not happy about it! Here are a few reasons why students are angry as we head into lockdown number 3.
Paying rent for empty accommodation
The price of student accommodation these days ain’t no joke, especially if your university is in a major city. And some students need to work part-time to cover the cost of the rent of somewhere that they aren’t even allowed to live in until February (hopefully) – which is just wrong. However, there is something you can do if you live in private or uni owned accommodation: STRIKE! This year there has been the most rent strikes ever seen on record, 40+ universities in the UK have rent strike organisations and counting. And it does get results. The rent strike organisation for the University of Manchester got back 30% of their rent money for halls, which is estimated at about 4 million. Not a bad result at all.
Commencement of Winter exams
Okay so universities are privately owned, so they don’t have a say as to whether winter exams go ahead, but your uni does! Having a 3rd lockdown sprung upon you and trying to do revision is just a recipe for disaster. Plus, it is a bit of a kick in teeth for some seeing how GCSE and A levels exams are officially cancelled, but university students are expected to perform as normal in these extremely unconventional circumstances. Many students are campaigning to cancel or delay winter exams so they can perform to their full potential.
Paying £9250 for online learning
It’s more than an understatement to say this was not the university experience that we signed up for. But whether we like it or not for most courses, everything will be taught remotely again. But is it fair to pay for resources on campus that most people are not even allowed to access at the moment? Well over 250,000 people don’t think it is as a petition is going around to reduce the tuition fees for the 2020/21 academic year from £9250 to £3000. The good news is that is issue has to be discussed in parliament now, whether they will approve it or not only time will tell.
The government have a lot on their plate dealing with a pandemic, we acknowledge this, but students feel that there is a definite lack of communication from the government. The most memorable time that university students were mentioned during the pandemic was to blame them for the increase in infection rates. It’s getting better now though admittedly with official government guidance published in regards to what students should do during the 3rd national (better late than never). But it’s annoying that nearly a year since covid restrictions have been introduced that university ad students and staff have received such little government guidance.
The mental strain
Mental health for everyone in the past few months has been a bit shaky, and with the implementation of a 3rd lockdown, it’s only normal to feel a little down about it. Students are no exception. There are so many things that students have to deal with at this time: assignments, exams, loneliness, not having access to appropriate resources, possibilities of home-schooling children and/or dealing with bereavement which is bound to take its toll. NHS mental health services are always over-subscribed with waiting lists in some areas of the country that can take months. Well-being services at uni are also being flooded due to the ever-increasing rise in mental health issues like depression and anxiety. And this is bound to have a detrimental impact on academic performance. If you are in need of help, we have some tips for good mental health, or you can get expert help here.
So 2021 hasn’t got off to the best start with the overwhelming sense of uncertainty in the air in regards to this academic year. And as a collective, students are struggling academically and mentally with the curveballs that covid-19 continues to throw at us. But remember you have come this far, which is an achievement in itself. Look after yourself, look out for your family because we all need to support each other; now more than ever before.