What student experience?

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Life isn’t easy right now for students.

Students nationwide are paying rent for university or private accommodation not being lived in, whilst having worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic, often in high-risk sectors, to fund a university experience that has been non-existent for the best part of a year.

Mental health and students

Students’ mental health has really taken a hit during the pandemic.

Some students found themselves in prison-like conditions only to be given what felt like bail to return home for Christmas and New Year.

Mental health charity, Mind, reported alarmingly high statistics in relation to students’ mental health.

  • Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of students said that their mental health declined during the lockdown
  • People aged 18–24 reported worse mental health and wellbeing during the 2020 UK lockdown

Interior design student at Kingston University, Fenton Booth, believes students’ mental health has been neglected during the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

He said: “Charities like Young Minds and Samaritans are being overwhelmed with student callers who have been locked up to stop the spread of the virus and that has come at a great cost to students’ mental health.”

Missed opportunities

Many students across the country have had the opportunity to gain valuable experience through work placements and study abroad exchanges cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fashion student at Kingston University, Amy Harrington, had a six-month work placement in Amsterdam cancelled.

She said: “It was something I was really looking forward to since I started the course. After securing a work placement abroad, it’s a shame I have nothing to show for it and I’ve missed out on the opportunity to learn and make contacts in the industry.”

Harrington is one of many students who have missed out on experience in industry. This has led to anxiety amongst students whose post-university prospects are becoming more and more unclear.

The latest figures suggest seven in 10 18 to 24-year-olds worry that coronavirus will harm the job market and cause higher unemployment for a long time.

Students have also missed out on vital university experiences through sports teams and societies.

The British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) announced that the BUCS 2020/21 league and knockout season has been cancelled due to the unpredictable nature of nationwide lockdowns and restrictions.

Third-year Kingston University student, Chloe Imlah, said the university netball team has played a big part in her life.

She said: “It’s a real shame that there won’t be any competitive sport this year. We were all hoping that after Christmas we could play some netball against other universities.

“Sport has been so important in my time at university, the netball team are my second family here. I’m really sad it has ended like this.”

Student unions including the Union of Kingston Students are now calling for a reduction in tuition fees for all university students.

A petition to reduce university student tuition fees from £9250 to £3000 has gained over 550,000 signatures meaning it will be considered in Parliament for debate.

This is a step in the right direction for university students who fear for what lies ahead after the completion of their degrees.

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