‘I’m missing half my course’: These students are struggling to get a degree in lockdown

‘I’ll probably do a master’s just to catch up on the education I feel I’ve lost”

Lecturers are calling students “stupid” for wanting safety nets and branding campaigns for no detriment policies “cyber terrorism”. And it makes you think – how hard can it be right now, really? Well, for actual students, things are a struggle right now.

On one hand, keen to avoid the financial hit of mass refunds, universities are adamant that things are basically as good as they were. On the other, they’re insisting that if things were to get literally any worse, students’ degrees would be dangerously compromised, so they couldn’t possibly do a no detriment policy like last year. Caught in the middle of this position are students trying to do their degrees throughout a third lockdown.

Students who have spoken to The Tab explained how hard they’re finding it in lockdown. They feel they need more help, but that even if that help does come, they’ve lost something they can’t really get back.

‘I’ll probably end up doing a master’s just to top up the education I feel like I’ve lost out on’

Shifra Hoskins thought she’d be able to use the final year of her music degree to network and acing her performances.

Instead, the Sussex student is having to practice on a small keyboard in her room and is planning – along with all her housemates –  on a master’s to make up for lost time.

“I’ll probably end up doing a master’s just to top up the education I feel like I’ve lost out on,” she told The Tab. “It was always a possibility but now I’m 95 per cent sure I’ll do one.”

“I chose to do this course because of the practicality in combination with the academic stuff so since everything got moved online, I really don’t feel like I’m doing the course so signed up for,” she said.

“The academic stuff is all very well but I feel like I’m missing out on half my course.”

While the uni has put a few measures in place, the reality is that it can’t make up for what’s been lost to the pandemic. “I’ll obviously still be getting the same qualification,” she said, “but the practical experience and knowledge of how to actually progress from the degree will be pretty limited,” Shifra told The Tab.

‘It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re studying, sleeping, and living in the same space’

Kathryn is studying a PGCE at Leeds. Along with having to adapt to teaching her lessons online, she’s having to do uni work.

“Studying for uni is at the back of my mind and I think the lecturers think it should be at the forefront of our minds,” she said.

“Studying is so hard at the moment – it’s so hard to maintain motivation when you’re studying, sleeping and living in the same space. I live alone so I don’t see other people from day to day and am studying at the same desk I’m eating my tea at.”

While she thinks a no detriment policy would help, it won’t make up for what she’s missed so far. In particular, she’s missed getting to know the other trainees on the course. “I understand the reasons why, it’s just frustrating to miss things that other students may have experienced,” she said.

‘We won’t acquire nearly the same level of skills we would if we were in-person’

Universities are insistent that any compromise on marking would put the “academic integrity” of everyone’s degree in serious jeopardy. For Orenji Zvezda, a journalism student at Leeds Beckett, that’s already happened.

“We won’t acquire near the same level of skills we would if we were in-person. I’m just worried I won’t be as confident leaving my degree and getting into work, or my transition into that”, she says.

“One and a half years of my academic life have been taken over by coronavirus.”

Beyond missing time, Orenji has found things difficult with uni. “I’m definitely struggling because of lockdown. I’m not being given the readings for some modules, and I’ve had a module tutor saying to me that we should all afford books now since we aren’t going out anymore,” she said.

“It’s very unfair we are being told we have the same level of education as pre-corona.”

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No detriment policies aren’t ‘necessary’ this year, says the Russell Group

Updates: These are the unis who have introduced no detriment policies for lockdown 3.0

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