‘I’m worried my degree will suffer’: Lancs students react to lockdown extension
‘I suffer from anxiety and the uncertainty makes it so much worse’
Ever since January 4th, when lockdown three was first announced, many Lancs students have waited with bated breath on the government announcements, as they deliberate over a return to university. Some students found it fitting to travel back to campus within the early days of lockdown to ensure that they would be able to live out Lent term in Lancaster, while others decided to wait out the lockdown at home, banking on the fact that they would be back on campus by the end of February.
However, sadly, the hopes of a return to in-person teaching and a bustling campus were squashed when, on January 27th, the government announced a lockdown extension that will last at least until the 8th of March.
The lockdown extension will have a great effect on both students in Lancaster, and students studying from home; and it is because of this that we reached out to students in both situations – hoping to shed a little light on how this extension is making Lancaster students feel.
‘Because of lockdown… I’m going to have to do my coursework for this module while doing other modules’
Meanwhile Abbie, a first year student from Furness, is focused on how lockdown is impacting her studies. She told us: “The coursework for [the module I’m doing now] which makes up 50% of my grade is a lab report which means we have to attend an in-person lab.”
Understandably, not being at university is having a huge influence on the ability of many students to complete the work for their course, and often causes difficulty through aspects such as not having access to the library and to university amenities such as labs. Lack of access to necessary facilities means some work is having to be completed at a later date, a factor which Abbie states “which will significantly increase my workload later.” Workloads are being amplified, and stress is building.
‘I’m worried my degree will suffer as a consequence’
Also concerned about her work, is Anna, a third year student from Lonsdale. Anna brought to attention the fact that the lockdown extension is resulting in students continually having to work in less than ideal settings, telling us: “I’m sharing a work space with my mum who’s working full time from home, so struggle to concentrate on work […] but neither of us have anywhere to move to.”
Not being able to be in Lancaster is forcing many students to adapt to difficult and unfair situations, that could be potentially detrimental to their work. On top of this, students are suffering from the lack of accessibility to amenities, as Anna explained: “I also don’t have a library near me that’s open so all the resources I’m having to use are online as I can’t really afford to buy a lot of them for personal copies”, proving that the inability to be on campus is having an affect in many different ways.
Initially wanting to return to Lancs before March in order to have access to the library, Anna has expressed that the lockdown extension has made her change her plans, and because of this, she is “worried my degree will suffer as consequence.”
‘I suffer from anxiety and the uncertainty makes it so much worse’
Additionally, Claire, a second year student from Lonsdale, highlights how the extended lockdown is being detrimental to mental health, as she draws attention to how important it is to have some sort of certainty. “I suffer from anxiety and the uncertainty makes it so much worse.” It is evident that the lockdown extension is becoming a drain on the mental wellbeing of many students, and a lack of detailed information from the uni about what students should do adds extra pressure to those who are studying from home.
‘I feel it useless to go’
Not only is lockdown three affecting students living in England, but international students are also being forced to accept the harsh realities of the English Government’s decisions. Daniela, a first year international student from Cartmel, told us: “I was supposed to return to Lancaster around January 10th, nevertheless a national lockdown was declared before I could return.”
Daniela explained the difficulties that international students face whilst trying to travel back to university, telling us that although her home country was allowing people to travel to England for “justified reasons (such as studying there)”, they also announced that if a student were to travel to England during this lockdown, they would not be permitted to return to Spain until the end of the academic year. “I decided to stay home because it was safer and LU offered the option of studying completely online.”
She also expresses how she feels there would be no point to her returning after the extension draws to an end, since term finishes less than 10 days afterwards, and highlights her concern about the risks that any student faces when returning to the university. “I feel it useless to go, knowing that I will probably not have any in person lessons, and also it is a matter of health, I wouldn’t want to expose myself to get covid or even the new strain only to be locked up in my flat.”
‘I don’t believe [it] would be safe’
Megan, a first year student from County, responded and said: “I don’t believe a mass migration of students would be safe for the Lancaster residents right now.” Reflecting on the effect that having more students return to the university during this lockdown could have, she draws attention to the fact that cases rose rapidly at the beginning of the academic year due to students travelling, and stated that whilst “of course I think you should all be able to travel for mental health or safety or any other issues” all lectures are going to be online, and therefore she doesn’t “think it should be forced by the uni.”
‘The lockdown extension is the only way we might make a real difference’
First year student Amelia, from Cartmel, expresses her support for this lockdown extension. Her view is that “Even though lockdown is really hard, I see the lockdown extension as the only way we might make a real difference in saving lives and minimising the virus’ presence in the UK.” Shedding a positive light on the situation, Amelia highlights the importance of diminishing the harsh effects of COVID-19 on today’s society, and is more than willing to endure the tough reality of lockdown three, in the hopes that we might benefit from it in the long run. “I think it’s better to extend it rather than open up too early so we don’t have to go through another lockdown in future!”
Some names have been changed for those who wished to remain anonymous.