Just a list of every time universities mugged off students this year
It’s the out of date self-isolation meals for me
This has not been a great year for UK unis. While the VCs retreat to their country homes to lick their wounds as they count their £100k+ salaries, we thought we should reminisce on just how severe a PR disaster term one has become.
At first, you thought it couldn’t get worse than the safety nets and self-isolation meals. Then came the fences. I know we joke a lot about not having something on your “2020 bingo” but this year at uni really was a movie, and not in a good way. I’m hoping 2021 uni bingo is just good vibes and vaccines because honestly, I’m at my wit’s end.
1. To safety net, or not to safety net?
2020 at uni kicked off with a bang: everyone started getting coronavirus, ambulances were papped outside of accommodation like Kylie Jenner leaving a restaurant, halls were wiped down and disinfected and then everyone was sent home. Students were left to navigate entirely online learning for the first time and it was… a bit of a mess. So much so that many unis introduced a “safety net” or “no detriment” policy to protect their students’ grades.
But some were faster at implementing this than others. I’m not sure what was the wait was for, but students at universities like Newcastle and Sheffield Hallam were left wringing their hands and biting their nails, unable to relax without the promise of a safety net. Some came in late, and some just never introduced the policy, leaving uni students to take online exams for the first time with no guarantee their grades would remain unaffected. Super sick move from those unis, totally not mean and unjust at all.
2. All graduations will be postponed until 2024 like they’re a Marvel movie
Then, in the summer, around exam time, students were hit with another blow. “Congrats on making it through the shittest third year ever but you’re not going to be able to celebrate it because graduations have been moved to next year, or they’ll be taking place online in some strange beta-ceremony that no one in their right mind would attend” was the general theme. All the grad pic plans and Insta caption ideas were left to rot, and students were dismayed once more.
I understand this was not STRICTLY the fault of the universities and rather The Covid for not letting people gather in large groups, but it is still a complete and utter mugging off.
3. Oh no, we brought uni students back and they all got coronavirus, what do we do?
Then September rolled around and the government had still, at this point, barely mentioned uni students at all despite BoJo using the word “unprecedented” about 34884893 times in 282441820 press briefings, so everyone went back to uni as normal. Then, who could have guessed it, everyone got Covid. Universities didn’t foresee this (???) so struggled a little with how to handle the outbreak. And when I say a little I mean… a lot.
4. Students get a beautiful choice between free self iso meals with expired food and ones that cost a bomb
Students were instructed to self isolate in their uni houses and halls, which made things difficult because halls are basically like prison blocks. Then uni bosses had a brain wave and remembered “oh shit… uni students need to like… eat?” And so the self-isolation meal palava begins. Students are served out of date food which is delivered late, and many have no hot meal options. They are, frankly, quite gross.
And on top of being gross, sometimes they are downright dangerous or insulting. One student at The University of Edinburgh was given food items containing nuts, when she has a nut allergy, multiple times. A Muslim student was given a ham sandwich. You can’t make this shit up.
But these are just the free meals. Students at other unis were offered self-isolation “meal packs” they could pay for. UEA attempted to charge students £252 for one of their two-week meal packs, but reversed the decision and lowered the price. At Lancaster University these “meal packs” were up for grabs for £17.95 a day, which seemed steep enough but then students discovered the contents was actually only worth £2.70. Have you finished painting on your clown face makeup? Because we’re really out here looking like Ronald McFuckingDonald at this point. Let’s McFreaking Lose it. Oh, and it isn’t even over.
5. Online classes are still going, to varying degrees of success
By this point in the year everyone collectively agreed to never turn their camera on during an online lecture again and also that they could take naps during class if they see fit. It’s safe to say that the value of these online classes has… waned. Even more so when lecturers pull crap like going for a drive while teaching a tutorial, as one lecturer did at UCL. Wow.
6. Then the fences go up
Uni students, still fresh off the self-iso meal scandal, with the taste of mistreatment left over in their mouths, were pissed off alrady. Then, in a truly unprecedented move (even in 2020 times), the University of Manchester tried to fence in students as a “safety measure”. This did not go down well. The fences were dismantled, students protest took to the streets and started a rent strike as well as an occupation in halls. Did it work? Yes. Not encouraging anyone or anything, but it genuinely did.
7. And the security gets tougher
Student parties have been being broken up since the start of term, but later in the year, it started to feel more like targeting and less like necessary Covid rule enforcement. In Newcastle, Covid marshalls (funded by the uni) patrolled student areas and routinely busted in on what they expected to be partying students, only to find them watching The Crown or singing The Potential Break Up Song by Aly and AJ.
8. Then, to top it all off, it’s announced that students might not return to uni until February
They’ve just paid a chonk amount of rent to live in a uni city there was no real point in returning to, then the gov announced staggered return dates that might stop students coming back until Feb. Meaning, students found out that they could be paying a month of rent for the student house they can’t use. This, alone, is bad enough. But after everything else this year, you can see why the biggest rent strike in 40 years is expected. So the staggered return is just a final nail in the coffin.
There you have it. Students have literally been taken for fools all year, and they’re literally paying to be treated this way. Something tells me universities should watch their backs in 2021, because students have had enough.