The nights are long and the students are tired... Of the pandemic

Lois King on 2 December 2020

The end of the year

It’s month 100 10 of the pandemic, and we're all fed up, isolated and down-trodden by the virus. But, still the pressure is on for students with assignments, deadlines and the general winter blues making it a pretty tough time right now. You need to keep putting your students first, channelling empathy and understanding, whilst acknowledging the general fatigue we're all feeling. Take a well-earned break this Christmas knowing that students’ frustrations aren’t aimed at their institutions, but the pandemic itself. Here’s what you can do to make the final few weeks of term less of a slog and as stress-free as possible.

But first, the good news...

We recently revealed the 2020 Student Tracker roundup, highlighting the highs (yes, there were some) and lows of 2020. Students’ desire to stay at university has fluctuated throughout the year, but the good news is that students who were considering dropping out are no longer looking to do this. While they are tired of how Covid-19 is affecting their academic and personal experiences at university, we’ve found that half of students feel they often don’t have control of important things in their life, they are not blaming their institutions for the situation.

Students need support...

Despite wanting to stay at university during the pandemic, students’ stress levels have increased over the past weeks, and their average score on the Perceived Stress Scale is understandably higher than before Covid-19. Academic concerns are one of the largest sources of stress; three in 10 students said it had a severe impact on their mental health. And students’ feeling of being supported is now at a six-week low, with one in five saying they don’t feel supported at all. But while this may be more to do with Covid-fatigue than institutional failure, student support such as personal tutors and pastoral care needs to remain in place, particularly over the festive period when students are generally left to their own devices. Foster student support networks, such as societies and academic classes, to cultivate a community of support, and create opportunities for students to help each other, and direct your students to sources of help.

But it’s not just the students who are feeling burnt-out

Let’s be honest, everyone is looking forward to the end of term, from the staff to the students. The pandemic has affected us all, and supporting students without a crystal ball is a difficult feat. If you’re struggling as a leader, or find your student comms or recruitment team are having a tough time, then we’ve got the mental health and wellbeing resources you need here.

If you want your students to be refreshed and excited about starting the new term in January, then they need to be well-supported by their academics and their peers, and need time to chill over Christmas. After all, university isn’t all about the grades - it’s about the experience, and if your students are struggling to have fun amongst the stresses of academia and isolation, then they need some relief from those pain points with a well-deserved break. 

Lois King
Lois King on 2 December 2020