‘I don’t really see a point in staying here’: How students feel moving into Tier Three
‘Students from the UK still have the option to go back home, but international students don’t’
It was announced on Friday that Lancashire would be joining Liverpool and Merseyside in the highest restriction level of local lockdowns. Lancs joined Tier Three, which sounds like a band formed by Simon Cowell in the golden era of X Factor, but instead means that Lancashire residents cannot mix households in any private or outdoor setting, amongst other restrictions.
It was teased that Lancashire might remain in Tier Two, but in a shock turnaround, £42million in financial support and a load of Lancs students whispering “what about the north” we’re here. Tier Three baby, like it or leave it? The Tab Lancaster spoke to Lancaster University students on how they really felt about the sudden turnaround.
“For theatre students especially, we feel the continuous threat of a full lockdown really heavily”
Theatre student, Madeline, said: “We’re just waiting to be told at this point that we can no longer meet in person and no longer get the practical experience and teaching that we’re paying for. The majority of theatre students take the degree for the practical aspect and because we love theatre so much. It’s devastating that being put in Tier Three may just push back any hope of getting to make theatre, or of theatres reopening again.
“It’s such a hands on and visceral subject that it simply can’t be replicated online. We had a taste of what an online practical theatre project might look like at the end of last year, and it wasn’t nearly as fulfilling, or at all what we signed up for. I’m worried that I may leave uni with a degree of sorts, but not with the experiences I was promised.”
“They’ve taken away everything that even resembled uni life, so I don’t really see a point in staying here”
Final year student Andreas admitted to testing positive for COVID-19 whilst in Lancaster. He said: “If I’m honest even that wasn’t enough to make me want to pack my stuff and go home. I wanted to stay in Lancaster and try to have some resemblance of a uni life.
“I knew going in that Lancaster would probably become a hot-spot for the virus but I just wanted to come back anyway. Now that Tier Three’s been announced and I’m not allowed to see any of my mates, and gyms and pubs and bars will be closing very soon, that was kind of the last straw for me. They’ve taken away everything that even resembled uni life, so I don’t really see a point in staying here, especially since everything’s online anyway.”
He continued: “The only thing I’m kind of worried about is the quality of learning they’ll be able to give us later on down the line. As a final year student my grades this year are more important to me than ever, and I’m worried whether online teaching and learning will make people’s grades take a nosedive.”
For those worried about Tier Three: “Be patient. Try not to think about it or dwell on it too much, because it will just mess up your mental health even more. Try to socialise with your flatmates as much as humanly possible, FaceTime your mates in other unis or from home, call your family. Maximise human interaction as much as possible.”
“It was a bit of a blow to hear that the second I’m out of isolation I can’t do anything”
Roman tested positive for coronavirus on the 6th October and immediately started isolating. With Roman’s results ensuring self-isolation, he and his housemates started their own lockdown. “Everyone just got a bit tired of sitting about, as we were reduced to drinking in our flat kitchen and blasting WAP for entertainment.
“Because I was the first to have symptoms in the flat, I was able to leave isolation on the Friday. But what’s the point? Every other flat seems to still be confined, so I resigned myself to doing laundry and picking up some post. It was a bit of a blow to hear that the second I’m out of isolation I can’t do anything but I guess at this point you just have to roll with the punches, and see your friends when you can.”
“My girlfriend lives 10 minutes away but we would see each other every day, and now we can’t”
James lives in Lancaster with four flatmates, his girlfriend lives 10 minutes away and Tier Three means that they cannot see each other. “I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t take these things into account – they make us move into uni again, expect us to do degree level works, pay over £3k more than other established online universities (like the open university) just because they’ve got themselves into debt, but expect us to then not need to socialise with people we care about to stay mentally in check?
“I suffer with anxiety, my main anxiety is how long is this actually going to go on for? If they said two weeks – fine. If they said a month- fine. But they don’t ever put a time limit on it. In the last lockdown, me and my girlfriend lived on the same street but we couldn’t see each other for months. I’m also worried for my other flatmates who have family in further parts of the country that may have awkward restrictions in place when they feel the need to see them.”
“Coping is harder because you can’t look forward to your next trip home”
Iness pointed out her concerns that being in Tier Three would mean less in-person teaching, but the university has since announced that it will continue with blended learning. “Being in Tier Three means even less in-person learning and already, I only have three in-person sessions in the space of five weeks. It would be 10 times cheaper for me to travel from London to Lancaster for those sessions than pay for my accommodation!”
“I’m worried that I now have no idea when I’m going to see my family and I’m sure other students are finding it difficult to spend their entire day in their box room. Coping is harder because you can’t look forward to your next trip home.”
“Students who are from the UK still have an option to go back home, but international students don’t”
Eliza is an international student living on campus. She pointed out that international students don’t have the option to escape Tier Three by going home. “I am living on campus and I can’t meet my friends who are living off-campus and I don’t have any family living nearby. It’s just really scary.
“I’m worried that it may never get better because some students seem to be very casual and careless about the situation. I think people should realise that there are some people who have underlying health conditions and that not all problems are visible. If you are having a hard time mentally, please talk to someone or seek help if required. Nobody should feel like they have to go through this pandemic alone.”