London students anxious, lonely and disappointed by handling of Covid pandemic

·3-min read
 (Andrew Neel / Unsplash)
(Andrew Neel / Unsplash)

University students in London feel “devastatingly disappointed”, anxious and lonely as a result of the handling of their education in the pandemic.

Three in four students feel the government poorly organised their return to studies while almost all believe refunds are necessary, according to new research.

An alarming 83 per cent have felt sad or depressed this academic year while two thirds feel unprepared for their final exams.

Meanwhile the London School of Economics and University College London are among half a dozen institutions who say that they will be teaching their students at least partly online this autumn term.

It means students’ education will have been disrupted for a third time this academic year.

The UniMate survey of 1,000 students reveals students have felt left behind throughout the pandemic and let down by both the government and the universities themselves.

A masters student from University College London (UCL) said “[Covid-19] has severely affected the experience, leaving us devastatingly disappointed.”

This year has been particularly tough for students who have felt “anxious and lonely” according to an Imperial College London student.

“It literally has gone down the drain,” a third-year from the University of the Arts London (UAL) said.

“I feel like I am loosing so much valuable time and money on this and I don’t even enjoy it nor does it bring me any benefits anymore”.

More than half of those who participated in the survey said their poor mental health had affected their academic performance, yet little is being done to prevent this.

Almost 30 per cent of students have reached out to mental health services during this academic year, and three quarters of them have reached out to them more than in previous years.

Many of them have since been diagnosed with depression and anxiety due to the uncertainty they have faced throughout the year from both universities and the government.

“It’s been a difficult year for university students, who’ve felt extremely left behind,” Charlotte Gray, the chief executive for UniMate, said.

“There’s been so much uncertainty in relation to teaching and grades which I not only experienced myself but also through all the conversations I’ve had with students this year. So much more could and should have been done.”

The research aims to give a voice to university students and enable them to express how challenging this year has been.

Ms Gray added: “Although shocking, we’re not surprised about the results and comments and hope more is done regarding student mental health.

“It’s unsurprising to then see the survey revealed nearly 100 percent believe a refund for the past academic year is necessary.”

UAL said it “does not underestimate the upheaval caused by the global pandemic” and would encourage all students to utilise available services including wellbeing and counselling.

A spokesperson added: “Throughout the pandemic, course teams have worked tirelessly to ensure our students could continue their learning, complete units and pass the year or graduate on schedule.”

Denise Long, director of student support and wellbeing at UCL, said: “The health and wellbeing of UCL’s students is our highest priority and we recognised that our students may be facing additional mental health and wellbeing challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

“Throughout the pandemic, UCL’s support services have continued to be available to all our students, wherever they are located.”

The Evening Standard has contacted Imperial College London for comment.

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