Students have considered a broader range of accommodation choices as a
result of Coronavirus. In a recent survey undertaken by
www.accommodationforstudents.com 40% of respondents had considered living
in a houseshare rather than a hall. 22% a flat or apartment and 21% a
studio room in a hall, as methods of reducing contact with others.
The choice of accommodation was just one factor students have evaluated
prior to returning to university this September, with just over1/3 rd considering deferring their studies for a year as the
majority of students (59%) are not anticipating a return to normality on
campus until 2021.
Blended learning as standard
71% of students will experience blended learning, combining online teaching
styles with some face to face learning. However, for some there remains a
degree of uncertainty with just under ¼ of respondents still not sure what
to expect. Despite this uncertainty most students feel that their
university has been good at keeping then up to date, with 70% agreeing that
communication had been good.
Financial and practical concerns
On balance students are deferring judgement about this experience with only
22% definitively unhappy with the teaching proposals from their University.
The biggest concerns these students have is around value for money, but
some offer practical concerns, such as poor quality wifi in some shared
housing disrupting online learning. It is noteworthy that 10% of
respondents to the survey did not have the necessary equipment to
participate in online learning.
Concerns about the social experience
As might be anticipated, students are concerned about the social experience
when they return to university. However, it is not just the absence of what
may be considered the traditional social experience involving bars and
clubs that is of concern.
Students are worried about missing the day to day contact with their peers
if there are relatively few contact hours on campus. They also worry about
missing the social interaction that being an active member of clubs and
societies brings. Some students even pointed out simple changes such as
walking to campus rather than using public transport would reduce social
interaction with their peers.
In general students displayed a lack of enthusiasm for online social
activity, with just 32% indicating that this type of event would be
Just over half of the students in the survey are concerned that their
financial situation will be weakened. This is mainly due to the loss of
part time work or the perception that this will be harder to come by when
they return in the autumn. In some cases students would also be receiving
reduced support from their parents and families during the term time. A
significant minority of students also expressed concern about the financial
position of their University, following the earlier impact of Covid 19.
If a second wave of Coronavirus forced University closure almost half of
students ( 48%) would prefer to stay in their term time accommodation and
1/3rd would look to return home (to family and friends) and
socially isolate. This is broadly similar to the number of students (37%)
that feel that Coronavirus is a health risk to them personally, with the
majority of those responding not feeling directly threatened by the virus.
In terms of support to address these challenges trends emerge around a few
themes. Financial support either through reduced tuition fees or
flexibility with accommodation costs or increased maintenance loans funding
to address financial shortfalls. Outside of these financial requirements,
students are looking for more regular communication from their University,
plus more flexibility over teaching styles. In particular students would
like to be able to book individual teaching time with a tutor to make up
for lost time on campus.