With so many question marks floating around the next few weeks, let alone September, it’s understandable that students’ minds (and plans) are changing from one week to the next. Fortunately, that’s something the Student Hut Covid-tracker can follow, measure and track, and continue to share with you. 

It’s week nine of the tracker and the number of students still saying that they are planning on going to university has now dropped to the lowest number since this project started. Prospective students are now two times more likely to consider taking a gap year, postponing their studies by a year or more, than they were before Covid-19. Here’s what we’ve learnt.

Before the lockdown, 16% of students said they were considering taking a gap year. This has now more than doubled to 33%, suggesting that many students are on the edge of deferring.

But with universities beginning to acknowledge what their next academic year will look like, we’re starting to see a roadmap, with two potential routes for post-lockdown reopenings: moving to predominately online classes, or using stringent social distancing measures to physically open the gates after the summer has ended. While there’s no right or wrong at this point, the Opinion Panel has spoken:  

In response to the news of the University of Cambridge announcing that there will be no face-to-face lectures over the next academic year, we asked students how they’d feel if their universities announced the same. 

6 in 10 students would not re-enrol if their university did not give face-to-face lectures next year. 44% of students said they would want to defer for a year, while a further 13% said that they would want to transfer to another university. 

However, taking an approach like the University of Bolton who recently announced that it is planning on reopening its campus this September with new COVID safety measures (including airport-style temperature scanners at every building entrance, one-way walking routes and compulsory face masks) here’s how students felt about their universities doing the same: 

75% of students would re-enrol if their university adopted Covid-19 safety measures that allowed face-to-face learning.

Students felt much happier with this response than the one taken by the University of Cambridge and compared to the 55% who said they’d be disappointed if their universities took the online approach, only 12% would be disappointed with their university reopening with COVID safety measures. 37% said they would feel relieved and 23% said they would be happy. 

Of course, the decision isn’t as easy as picking between two camps and we know there are more moving parts than we can even begin to imagine. But what we do know is that students want answers and they want a road map. Are you moving towards online-only or opting for a COVID-safe reopen? Whatever you do, it’s time to let your prospective and existing students know while their fingers are hovering over that defer button. 

Upgrade to the full subscription now to ask your own questions and receive your institution-specific data to benchmark against national findings.

Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Content Manager