While many of us have transitioned from boardroom to sofa, office desk to dining table, our postcodes have generally remained the same. This hasn’t been the case for many students, for when the lockdown was announced, many packed up their uni halls or flats and moved back to childhood bedrooms, or into homes with friends, partners and in-laws. And in this week’s tracker, we asked our opinion panel how comfortable they’ve felt about this and what problems they’ve faced because of it. Their answers highlighted some of the key questions on how this will impact their university plans come September.
Here are some of the insights we discovered from week 8’s Covid Tracker (11th May - 17th May):
87% of students are living with their parents during the lockdown, and they are the group of students who feel most comfortable with their current living arrangements.
But not all students are happy about their living arrangements…
Students are twice as likely to feel uncomfortable if they are living with a boyfriend/girlfriend or friends.
And are 3 times as likely to feel uncomfortable if they are still living with uni housemates.
“My housemates don’t follow quarantine and it makes me feel uncomfortable.”
So the big question is, so what?
People from all generations struggle with cabin fever and being with those they live with 24/7, so it’s no surprise that students aren’t any different. But students have told us that they are much more comfortable living with family than they are housemates, so will students even want to enrol at a university far from home come September (particularly with the added fear that they could lose out financially if another lockdown is issued)? Or will universities see a rise in local enrolments from students who have grown to appreciate the security of living with their parents? Is it time to start promoting your institution to students who live locally?
It’s more important than ever before to understand your own student audience, having updated personas so you can support your students with tailored messaging.
How good is your online learning provision?
We also found that almost half of students don’t think their online learning provision is good or engaging enough to replace face-to-face learning (and if you’ve been tracking this trend, you’ll know that students are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their institutions online learning provision). A few weeks ago, we highlighted that only 53% of students would be happy to start in September if it means learning will be delivered online only.
So if your big back-up plan is to provide students with an online or virtual learning experience from September, you’re going to need to make sure that you’re course content is matching the expectations of your students, or you’ll lose them. Luckily, our panel has let us know exactly what they want to see from institutions and how they can improve their online learning provision, but you’ll have to sign up to our premium tracker subscription to find out.
How can you remind your students that they're not alone?
During these times, students are feeling unsettled and facing heightened anxieties. While it’s critical that you’re showing your students that you’re on their side through your communications, you can also highlight what professional services and support is available to help them too.
We know we mentioned this last week, but 50% of students say they either can’t or don’t know if they can access their university’s mental wellbeing/counselling services, and 30% of students say they might want to use these services. When we asked how this made students feel, they told us that it made them feel alone or that they were a burden to their university.
“It makes me feel like I’m alone. I’m at University by myself away from my family and friends and it really is an ongoing struggle.”
While we don’t have all the answers, and nor will you, asking the opinion panel these sorts of questions to build an understanding of what they want has never been more important. If you upgrade to the premium subscription you can create bespoke surveys for our panel that can help guide you during this pivotal time to cut through the noise and build and retain relationships with existing and prospective students. You can upgrade today.