Students are in favour of PPE - but what does it mean for the university experience?

Eleana Davidson on 29 July 2020
Students are in favour of PPE - but what does it mean for the university experience?

As the country starts to re-open, we’re all coming to terms what it means to be ‘out of lockdown’. Arrows marked out in tape on cafe floors, one-in-one-out door checks, masks on inside every shop - and students are navigating this too. This week in the Covid Tracker, we asked what students thought university life should look like in the post-lockdown world and here’s what we found: 

Seven in 10 students want to wear masks in lectures. 

And they don’t want to take them off for much else either. Six in 10 said they’d want to wear them in libraries, seminars and common areas. 42% even said they’d want to wear a mask at campus bars or cafes.

And this thought process extends beyond themselves as individuals too.

Eight in 10 students told us they would also want their lecturers or tutors to wear PPE at least some of the time.

Within that figure, almost three in 10 students want lecturers and tutors to wear PPE all of the time. 

“We cannot afford to take chances and must avoid a second spike”

And while 20% of students said they did not want lecturers to wear PPE, their reasons focused on practicalities and the disadvantages of mask-wearing, especially for those with disabilities or additional needs. 

“Because when you’re in a lecture and the speaker isn’t talking very loudly you wouldn’t be able to lip read them if they have a mask on, this especially for those hard of hearing who rely on lip-reading.”

So the majority of students are leaning towards mask-wearing on campus. But that doesn’t mean they’re not concerned about what that means for their university experience. 45% said that masks would prevent them from talking and asking questions in lectures and seminars, potentially stifling those all-important discussions and debates. Meanwhile, four in 10 students feel that wearing PPE at university could make it difficult to make friends and one in four even believe it will hinder them in finding love. 

Week in, week out students have told us how they fear for their experience at university, with the thought of online learning looming over their heads. Although necessary, masks could be yet another obstacle for students. What can your institutions do to help maintain the formative experience that comes from university, beyond the degree, and make it worthwhile for your students? 

For more on what students are thinking about going back to university in September, along with the full insight from this week’s tracker, upgrade today.

Eleana Davidson
Eleana Davidson on 29 July 2020