What is it like to be at university during Covid-19?

The two main pillars of university life are the degree and the social life, however due to the current conditions much of the typical university experience and life has had to change and adapt with the aim of keeping people safer.

By Jess Palmer

We are currently facing challenging times but it also gives opportunities. It is allowing universities to experiment with the way they deliver teaching and look at the different environments people learn best in. Although the social life is restricted in some ways, the quality of teaching isn’t hindered by the current situation.

The lectures are currently all online. Students have a 30-minute introduction session, either live or pre-recorded (that’s up to the lecturer to decide). Then there is a two hour recorded lecture, as well as other online supporting material posted for each lecture. All of this is done before a 45-minute face-to-face session where small groups of students, sat socially distant, have a seminar with the lecturer to go over the content. This way, students see the content multiple times before discussing it in a group with the lecturer. It allows these 45-minute seminars to be more engaging and therefore a better learning experience.

The library is operating click and collect, where previously a person could browse for books and sit in the library to study, this can now be done but in reduced hours. To do this, you look at the online resource list, select the texts you want and then select a collection time. There is also a ‘click and sit’ in operation whereby you book a time slot when you wish to study. All of this helps to continue the learning experience safely. Where previously we could just go to the library whenever we wanted for a study session, or to browse for texts, Covid limits this but it doesn’t mean it hinders the learning experience.

The social side of university is the biggest thing to be affected since you cannot simply meet people and hang out on campus unless they’re in your bubble of six. Ways in which the campus has adapted include a mobile app ordering system and socially distant placing of tables in the student bar, allowing for a social experience but safely.  Students are placed in bubbles of six in which they socialise and the university has increased their student support to help those who are struggling to cope with the current pandemic and will provide extra support where needed.

All the new rules put in place, in line with government guidelines, have affected campus life, including wearing a face mask at all times in buildings, keep left schemes and one-way schemes. Antibacterial pumps are placed at the entrance of every building and lecture rooms are laid out with seats a minimum of one metre apart to maintain social distancing. The university gym is also operating on a booking system and there are reduced numbers of gym users and equipment. A one-way system is also in operation in the gym. There are also no external visitors and though external trips are taking place they are limited to groups of six, aiming wherever possible to keep to less popular/less well-populated locations to reduce interaction with the general public.

Yes, we are currently living in uncertain times and there is a somewhat reduced social life associated with the typical university experience, however, this does not detract from the learning or experiences gained throughout your university life.