The devastating impact of pandemic on uni student lives revealed

On March 23rd, the UK passed its two-year anniversary since entering the very first, government-issued lockdown. While we have come a long way since the early days of the pandemic, it is clear that the long-term effect on our health is only just being understood.

According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation, the pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in people suffering from feelings of anxiety and depression. While the WHO’s initial findings do not state specifically what age group are suffering the most, leading learning platform Quizlet, reached out to university students across the UK with the aim of better understanding the holistic impact of COVID-19 on their mental wellbeing, education, and social lives.

The initial move to remote learning for university students across the UK, all of whom were expecting to get ‘the full uni experience’, was a difficult and bumpy journey. Globally, students were expected to stay at home, or in their halls of residence, with limited interaction between them and their course leaders, as well as their new friends. Continued delays to exams, strict social distancing rules, and teacher-assessed grading all contributed to almost three quarters (74%) of UK university students surveyed believing that their university experience has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, with 66% fearing that it has led to a longer impact on their social skills and mental wellbeing, according to the survey.

When asked, Nayi Muyeri, a 3rd Year Medical Student at the University of Central Lancashire, felt that not only the personal lives of students had been affected, but also their academic potential, stating, “The pandemic had many long-term effects on my experience as a student, the most troubling being the mild post-traumatic stress disorder I was left with. I began to isolate myself from the outside world, hiding away in my room and avoiding outside activities, even after the rules relaxed. As a student, this has been tough to recover from and it feels as though I have had to rediscover the outside world. Student life is characterised by being outgoing, exploring, meeting new people and learning new things, but the pandemic took this away from us.” 

“The pandemic also had an adverse effect on my academic capability. As students like myself were forced to work from home with very little to no contact with tutors, I struggled to motivate myself to work to the best of my ability. Despite getting good results in my exams, I believe that, without the pandemic, and with a more positive outlook on life, I could’ve performed a lot better. I fear that this may have a negative impact on my future employment prospects. I also missed out on a lot of CV building experiences and opportunities due to the regulations that were introduced because of the pandemic. I am very concerned that the pandemic will impact my education and future employment in the long term.”

When asked, two-thirds (66%) of university students expressed deep concern about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their mental health. This corroborates a recent study published in medical journal, The Lancet, which found that globally there is an increase in people suffering from depressive and anxiety disorders. 

Quizlet’s recent findings  also delved deeper into the other ways students are being affected. Findings indicated that as much as 65% of UK university students are continually concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their social skills, with almost half expressing doubt and concern over the long-term issues the pandemic will have on their lives overall.

Furthermore, nearly a third of students surveyed claim that the pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on their university experience. This is hardly surprising considering that many spent the first two years of their uni days either at home, in lockdown, isolating, or even confined to their halls – unable to interact with lecturers, seminars, and course mates. However, many universities across the UK have stated that remote learning will continue, even as restrictions ease. This comes in spite of the fact that many students favour blended learning with ‘in person’ lectures and seminars being kept as an option.

It is clear that the past two years have had a detrimental effect on students not only across the UK, but globally. When speaking with Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager at Quizlet, he commented, “For the past two years, the pandemic has transformed the way we go about our daily lives. For some, social restrictions and national lockdowns were a time of contemplation and recharge; however, many were left isolated, vulnerable, and nostalgic for pre-pandemic life. It is clear from these insights that a large proportion of students are deeply concerned for what the future brings as the pandemic becomes part of our lives in this era of the ‘new normal.”

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the longer-term implications of the pandemic are only now becoming clear. If the findings of this recent survey prove anything, it is that the continued support of students as we move on from the pandemic is imperative, enabling them to move into the next chapter of their lives with confidence. 

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4246 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.