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How UK universities have responded to the pandemic

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In the middle of this world health and economic crisis, a particular group of individuals’ futures are at great risk. Students.

The impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on students’ lives, academics and future career prospects have been huge.

NatWest’s Student Living Index 2020 surveyed 2,806 students from 29 different universities to reveal where the most costly and affordable cities are for UK students and gain an insight into what the previous term has been like for them.

Impact on students’ degree qualifications

With lockdown hindering classes on campus and offices closing up, students have been left with online education and limited industry placements. Only one in 10 found value in online education for the amount of money spent on tuition.

I was considering/looking for a placement option but due to Covid-19 placements have been greatly reduced and there are few suitable options available. It has also restricted what summer/spring employment I can get as new jobs are available.” –  2nd year student at the University of Leicester

That said, 25% of students in the UK feel as though the pandemic has had a negative effect on their ability to achieve their degree qualifications.

Rent breaks during lockdown

When it came to rent reductions and breaks, only one in three students on average have been offered a rent break by their landlord. Those at Cambridge were the most likely to receive a rent break or reduction, with 83% of students saying they did.

On the other hand, Bristol’s students were not so lucky, with only 22% of students being offered a break or reduction on their rented accommodation.

Universities communicating with and supporting students during Covid-19 crisis

Given the unprecedented circumstances that evolved over the past few months, students’ concerns over their academics and future prospects as well as an understanding of what was required to finish off the year successfully needed to be addressed. Less than a third (29%) of students in the UK felt supported by their university during Covid-19.

Leading the way with support for students and the continuation of their studies during the Covid-19 crisis was Aberdeen. Almost half (46%) of students at Aberdeen felt quality support from their university, rating it highly on a scale of 1-10. This was 7% higher than the national average and 27% greater than the least supported students at Poole.

Exeter, Aberdeen and Nottingham are the top three universities when it comes to overall communication with students during the crisis. Students at these universities highly rated the efforts put in to ensure important information was given frequently and consistently.

Online education and value for money

Universities, along with numerous industries, have had to rely heavily on online means to communicate with and provide resources for their consumers. For the final months of the academic year, students have turned to online education to resume their studies. Surprisingly, only one in 10 students on average feel like they’re receiving value in online education for the money they’re spending on tuition.

This sentiment differs from city to city, with Glasgow students being the most likely to fine value for money in the online education provided to them by their university.

What will September bring?

Although lockdown rules and travel restrictions have eased, there’s still the risk of local lockdown rules being implemented for students in key university cities. These insights should provide more clarity and insight into how key university cities supported students during this uncertain time.

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