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Covid-19, universities and how to get the right support

14 September, 2020Mutahara Gofur
pile of different coloured books

Starting university is a key milestone in your life. But Covid-19 has made things different this year. Mutahara Gofur outlines how the coronavirus pandemic has changed student life in 2020 and offers tips to help you prepare for your degree course.

Leaving home for university is a big change. Throw a global pandemic into the mix, and it’s likely you may feel more nervous than excited. You may also be worried about how coronavirus will affect your degree or prevent you from having an enjoyable university experience.

But universities are supporting students and there’s a lot you can do to help yourself. 

How universities are supporting students

Due to Covid-19, universities have put social distancing measures in place and changed the way courses run.

Most universities will be taking a ‘blended learning’ approach, using a mix of online lectures with some face-to-face tutorials in smaller groups.

For example, at our university college, we’ll be offering face-to-face socially-distanced lectures. Many other universities have announced that lectures will mainly be online at least for the first term. Online learning appears to be the new normal – at least for the time being.

You may be apprehensive about the quality of teaching and how that will affect your degree course. If so, contact your university and find out what measures they have put in place to maximise learning.

Find out what resources are available to you and how your university can support you.

The social side of university life may also be different because of the pandemic. If you were thinking of joining some societies, find out how your university are planning to support them.

Some universities may still run virtual society events or allow face-to-face society activities in smaller groups. 

Student money, loans and Covid

It may not be the most exciting part of getting ready for university, but setting up your finances is important.

Make sure you have opened a student bank account before you go.

Many banks offer enticing incentives, freebies and discounts for students. But it’s important to find one with a low-interest overdraft in case you ever need it.

Some banks offer a free 16–25 railcard, which will allow you to save a third on rail fares. This is a lifesaver if you’re planning any trips home.

Sorting out your student loan can be a tedious process, but you’ll be glad you forced yourself to be organised when the payments come in on time.

Make a note of when you’ll receive your loan each term, to help you budget sensibly.

You may also be entitled to financial support from your university. Look into whether they provide any grants, bursaries, or scholarships. If you fit the eligibility criteria, apply promptly.   

Look after your physical health and mental wellbeing as a student

Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your health.

If you’re moving away from home, make sure you sign up with a new GP surgery as soon as possible. You should also establish a rapport with your personal tutor and keep them in the loop if you’re feeling unwell.

Your mental wellbeing is equally as important as your physical health. Starting university can feel daunting at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. You are beginning a new chapter of your life during an uncertain time and it is normal to feel stressed or anxious.

If you feel overwhelmed, make sure you know who to reach out to at your university. Many institutes have wellbeing services in place for students and offer free counselling services.

And keep your personal tutor informed and find out the process for mitigating circumstances in case you need them.

Enjoy student life despite Covid

This might not seem like the most ideal time to be going to university, but you can still make the most of it and the situation could change over time.

Keep in mind, that once you graduate and have a degree, the job market is likely to have improved, the pandemic could be over and you’ll have a bright future ahead of you. 

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