November 5, 2020

The Covid Campus

Student response has been thoughtful and adaptive

Author:
Andréanne Orsier, Divisional Director, Higher Education
Certainly, students - especially new students - have felt that Covid has taken a huge toll on their experience."

Depending on which news sources you take, students are either villains (selfish Covid super-spreaders), or victims (of the infamous ‘algorithm’, left to rot in quarantine and under-served by greedy universities). Neither of these characterisations are helpful or correct.

Watch the video and then read how and why some things may change forever...


The Covid Campus is the inevitable result of a difficult year, for the sector and wider society. Our research back in June for HEPI showed that although students were relatively understanding of the difficulties their universities face, they were not pleased with quality or quantity of communications they had received. Students wanted to feel that their safety was paramount and that their institution was being transparent and timely when communicating their Covid policies.

Certainly, students – especially new students – have felt that Covid has taken a huge toll on their experience. The creation of social bubbles has been vitally important important and allowed students to stay sane but it has also put far more pressure on the need to develop good relations among flatmates. The normal alternatives – course friends or friends made in other settings such as extra-curricular clubs – have simply not been available.

The situation is difficult for both students and universities to manage. Expectations around social life have grown and grown over the years – making the situation very tough to manage this year.

Our annual tracking survey of applicant decision making, Undergraduate Success, shows that over the last 14 years ‘social life’ has grown more significant as part of the decision-making process. 89% of those who live away from home sited the social life on offer at their university as an important to their decision making, while losing access to most campus facilities (both academic and leisure) is a massive deal (it’s one of the most important factors in student decision making according to our Undergraduate Success tracker).

If you work in a university we want you to watch our videos. You’ll see that neither the victim nor the villain stereotypes are true. The situation is far more nuanced. And students are far smarter and more resilient than many give them credit for. As always, we see our role as market researchers, to get behind the assumptions and give you a true picture of the situation, and what you can do about it.

This article was originally published by YouthSight, acquired by Savanta in May 2021. 


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