University students fear future impacts of covid-19 on their education

By: Daisy Cole

It is estimated that one in five students will defer their forthcoming year’s university study if their lectures are conducted online. 

With the rate of deferrals and drop-outs increasing, UK universities are looking at losing around £760m in tuition fees for the upcoming academic year. 

Professor Julia Clarke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) from the University of Wolverhampton said: “Our priority remains the safety of students and our staff.

“When we do return to campus we will ensure that significant social distancing measures limiting the numbers of people who can be on-site or in a room at any one time are in place, and whilst this may have some implications for how we deliver learning, teaching and student support, we are confident that we can offer students an innovative mixture of on-site and online delivery if needed.”

In a survey conducted by the National Union of Students, 74 per cent fear the pandemic will have impacted their exam results. 

And because many schools have used the results of past mock examinations for qualification results, this is expected to have a disruptive effect on many students who need to meet conditions to secure university place offers. 

Sara Quinton, a student who is preparing for her first year of university, said: “I am nervous about how my school has decided to use past performance such as GCSEs and mocks in place of my A-level results that I would have worked considerably harder for when it came to sitting the actual exam.

“I am waiting to see if my university is going to conduct online classes. I can’t say I like the idea of being taught online. 

“After having a week of online classes for my A-levels at the start of the pandemic, I found it more difficult than face-to-face classes. I don’t feel comfortable paying £9,000 for sitting in online classes. If I wanted to do online classes, I would have chosen to take up a degree with the Open University.”

Many feel online classes will not warrant the annual £9,250 tuition fee, as they will miss out on resources, facilities, and the chance to learn alongside classmates in a real environment. 

Applicants feel that university is an experience, and the pandemic has robbed them of that. The NUS has called on universities to be flexible when it comes to deferrals and re-sits of courses. 

The Union has launched its “Student Safety Net” campaign to pursue the Government on taking action to allow students to repeat the following year with full maintenance support.

Or to be able to write off the year for students and for them to be reimbursed at no extra cost due to the closure of campuses and facilities before the end of the academic year. 

NUS President, Zamzam Ibrahim, said: “We need clear decision-making to combat the chaos that COVID-19 has brought to our education system and answers to how education is going to be facilitated to over seven million students who need a Student Safety Net.  

“The government needs to move quickly to work with the higher education sector to ensure that all students are able to receive quality education next year and have the resources they need to engage with online learning. 

“Students must be given the opportunity to redo this year at no extra cost, or to have their course fees reimbursed or written-off.”