‘It’s hard to focus’: Royal Holloway students on online learning

‘It’s helped with my anxiety’


Early in September, Royal Holloway offered students the option to study online as Covid-19 cases were rising. On the student intranet, there is a helpful section which is a Q&A about the 2020/21 academic year.

The Tab Royal Holloway spoke to students to find out their opinion and personal experience studying online during a pandemic.

Lesley, third year, French and German

“It’s helped with my anxiety to some level because I don’t need to speak face to face but I find it a lot harder to focus when studying.”

Shaynikaa, third year, Politics

“I found it difficult with the limited amount of contact hours. My laptop crashed during lectures. The biggest challenge is accessing academic resources like readings off campus”.

Home is where Zoom is

Stephanie, third year, Finance and Maths

“I do strongly believe I would get more out of the education system if it wasn’t online. The lectures definitely have less quality as the lecturers try to divide their attention to both the online and in-person class.”

Jody, Maths and Computer science

“My personal experience has been positive. Lecturers seemed to get used to teaching online and ironed out any problems within the first couple of weeks. I think online lectures can feel more personal. I think a lot of unnecessary travel time has been removed for me and I’m there ready to listen and make my notes.”


Claire, third year, French and Drama

“It’s been difficult deferring my year abroad, sorting out my tuition fees and my accommodation only to have to sort out my own timetable too.”

Jasmine, Law

“Recorded lectures have been extremely beneficial as it means I can rewind, take as many breaks as I need, and be able to work when my brain is at its optimum for information retention. Online seminars, however, have posed difficulty as I cannot hear people properly.”

Mina, third year, English

“Studying online can be stressful. It’s a lot easier to lose focus because everything’s online now.”

Melanie, third year, Translation studies

“At the start of term, lecturers were often had technical issues, which cost a lot of time and prevented a smooth-running class. These issues disappeared more or less and I think it works well now. In terms of the hybrid classroom, the teaching staff put in a lot of effort to include both teams, in-class and online. Everyone is working really hard to maintain the same standards of teaching as to how it was before and I really appreciate it.”

soRry yOu Are on mUte

Ronnie, third year, English Literature

“They should have aimed to perfect online learning over the summer. On a more positive note, the Library Accessibility team have been working hard to send me PDFs of all the books I haven’t been able to buy whilst I am studying off-campus.”

Professor James Knowles, Senior Vice- Principal, Royal Holloway

In a statement, he told  The Tab Royal Holloway: “This is a new and unique academic year with a new pattern of education for us all. At Royal Holloway, we have worked exceptionally hard to introduce a blended learning approach which combines face-to-face and online teaching and learning support. This approach offers the flexibility required to accommodate social distancing and works for all students, whatever their circumstances might be.”

He also said: “Our student surveys suggest there is a high overall level of satisfaction and student engagement both on-campus and online. However, we recognise there will be a few teething issues and we are listening and acting on these. Just some of the changes that have taken place include the revision of over 2,000 Moodle pages, our library reading lists have been redesigned to be ‘digital first’ and new policies have been put in place to make a wider range of recorded material available. We have also set aside funds to support any students who are at a digital disadvantage so they can receive a laptop from the College to enable them to complete their studies. We are committed to doing all we can to support our students to continue to have an uncompromised learning experience at Royal Holloway whilst seeking to keep our whole community safe during the coronavirus pandemic.”