Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Life as a student during a pandemic

A shot of an office lamp and wall art reading 'up to no good' in Oliver Bonas
Day 36 of lockdown and the government still hasn’t addressed university students. Some universities have implemented a safety net policy meaning, ‘undergraduates who pass their exams will be able to retain their current average grade as a minimum’, some are still charging students for term 3 rent and others are refusing to reimburse fees for lost teaching. The worst of them, are encouraging disadvantaged students to defer their studies if they are unable to access a computer, laptop or wifi to meet deadlines.

Life as a student right now is a lot. I’m very lucky to not have any exams but I’m still expected to hand in assignments on the original deadline date unless I fill out an extenuating circumstances form. Now, if you’re a university student then you know how long the forms are and even when its been filled out and submitted, you’re not guaranteed an extension.

It’s incredibly frustrating to see universities asking for £2bn from the government when they're still charging students their full tuition fees, for teaching we're not receiving. Online classes are not what we are paying £9250 a year for, if we wanted to be taught online, we would’ve applied to open university. Some universities have scrapped teaching altogether, what are their students being charged for?

I asked a few of my friends studying a range of degrees to write me a paragraph summarising their experience as a student during a pandemic and here's what they said,

Ellie, a medicine student studying in China so has been in lockdown far longer than UK students wrote: "As a medical student, it’s hard being on lockdown because we don’t have access to labs, which is where we would have done experiments and worked with specimens. Those lab classes are a big part of our final grades (30 or 40% depending on the subject) so it’s worrying to think about whether we'll fare without them. In general, being a student during this time is difficult; motivating myself for every online class and not knowing when all this will end can be stressful but other parts are nice like having more time to cook, study and talk to friends, family etc."

Sophie, an astrophysics student who had just moved to Korea for her year abroad: "I was studying abroad in Korea and we were pulled back to the UK yet we’re still being made to take classes from our host unis. I’m taking classes with an 8-hour time difference to the rest of my classmates and lecturers."

Az, international relations and psychology student with a minor in environment and sustainability, said: "For my international relations, not too much has changed. Our exams became open book rather than closed book and one negotiation simulation was cancelled and replaced with a virtual simulation so we can still write our final paper on it, which is good. The psychology part of my degree is what has been affected most. We had to get rid of the psychology research we were doing for our lab report and use a combination of past data and a mock simulation online instead of running our own research experiment. Two research field trips and speaker panels were cancelled. A lot of core research to be able to complete the course, they’ve tried to supplement it with a lot of videos and past years data etc but especially considering the environmental climate in Australia over the past summer, a lot of that data is outdated now. Basically, anything to do with research is pretty much undoable until we get back to normal so yeah."

I think the hardest hit students in all of this are final year students. They have to write assignments, complete their dissertations, do online exams without full access to the resources they need, and graduations have been cancelled or postponed until next year. I can only imagine how stressful this is for them and my heart goes out to all of you. You have worked so hard over the years and this is not how your journey should have ended. I hope your university organises something for you to get closure.

"Anxiety is off the charts because of the uncertainty of my future as a student, for my post-university life". Lani, a third-year student studying law and business expressed feeling alone and without direction: "life as a student has really stopped so abruptly. I wasn’t able to finish my year with the people I had been working hard with on my course, events planned cancelled and graduation is gone. It definitely is a loss that many are going through but not a lot is showing because of the fear of being shamed for feeling this year as many are being hurt directly by the coronavirus. So, I personally have just been trying to deal with that alone and somehow conjure up the energy to continue my studies; which has been so hard and close to impossible. An hour a day is a big accomplishment for me. Online studying has been meh, however, that essential face to face contact no longer given makes it hard to get to the detail of the help you’re really seeking."

If you’re a student and you’re reading this, seek comfort in the fact that we're all in this together. Tough times never last. We will get through this, get the results and hopefully the compensation we deserve!


No comments

Post a comment

© Francisca Rockey | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig