Coronavirus Lockdown Stories Student Corner

Students want to repeat ‘lost’ pandemic year

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Anxiety is mounting among students who are feeling underprepared for their final exams after more than 12 months of major disruption, with some universities reporting that more students than usual are asking to repeat the year, according to the Guardian.

Students in England were told last week that those who are not studying for practical courses will not be permitted to return to campuses until 17 May, prompting frustration that they will not receive any in-person teaching or access to study spaces and libraries.

One professor said that students are cracking under the pressure. “It’s becoming very evident to them that they are behind. I’m dealing with five cases of suicidal thoughts among my own advisees,” he said.

Students who choose to repeat a year will also have to pay for another year of accommodation, while a further year of fees – which for many is the maximum of £9,250 – will be added to their debt.

The National Union of Students is calling on the government to fund an extra year for students. “Any student who needs to repeat this year should be able to do so while fully funded and at no additional impact to their loan,” said NUS vice-president for education Hillary Gyebi-Ababio.

Ariff Castronovo, a second-year medic at Oxford, asked his university about repeating the year when he felt overwhelmed. “It came to January and I was preparing for my mock exams and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep my head above water.” he said.

Students on practical courses were permitted to resume in-person teaching and access study spaces from 8 March. However, Ruby Betts and Ellis Tree, two graphic design students at Kingston University, say this is limited and leaving them worried about building the portfolios they need. The pair created a book titled “a message of protest”, with aid from 25 art students, which they have sent to the universities minister. “[£9,250 fees are] too much to pay for too little, that’s the consensus from arts-based students,” Tree said.

One parliamentary petition asking for tuition fees to be reduced to £3,000 got more than 580,000 signatures , while the student-led Write Off, Right Now campaign group organised a day of social media action on 16 April and asked students to write to their MPs warning that “students have received little recognition for their struggles this year and little support from the government”.

Image provided by Sky News.

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