Students are thinking of breaking lockdown to support themselves: how can you help?

Eleana Davidson on 7 October 2020

For many, going to university comes with more responsibility and accountability than just remembering to wake up in time for a lecture. Supporting themselves financially is a reality for a huge amount of students nationwide, and, in this week’s insights tracker, students told us that finance and support was a real concern when faced with lockdowns, potential or otherwise. Here’s what we found, and what you as universities can do to help support your students, even if giving out tuition fee refunds isn’t an option right now. 

Alarmingly, one-third of students whose universities are currently in lockdown think they’ll have to break isolation in order to support themselves financially, and a further 17% of students said they were unsure whether they would have to or not. For many students, being able to get to their part-time jobs to afford food, rent and general living costs is a greater concern than Covid-19. 

So where does this leave universities? Well, we know that institutions up and down the country are currently doing everything they possibly can to balance supporting their students with the fight against coronavirus. But what good is that if students don’t even know this support exists? 

For those students already in lockdown, we asked about the support services that they either had access to or knew of. From food parcels and care packages to helplines and rent rebates, around three in 10 students were unaware of any lockdown services on offer at their universities. Can you be sure every single one of your students knows how and where to get help, whilst they’re locking down?

And, even more shockingly, two in five students in lockdown told us none of the above services were available. If you aren’t already, can you provide helplines to protect mental health, and door-to-door food packages during one of the most anxiety-evoking times in students’ lives? You may not be able to supplement their part-time wage, but if there are options for rent holidays, food allowances or support packages, it could really take that pressure off students having to break protocol.  

“Please stop blaming students for the "second wave" - the majority of us are being careful and following the rules. Besides, you told us to come back so please don't change your mind now that you've robbed me of £9,250.”

Looking to the future, three in 10 university students not in lockdown (yet) said they did not have access to financial support if their institution does lock down in future, and a further 27% said they were unsure if they would have any financial support if this were to happen.

“Send students home. Everything is online and to be blunt there's little need for them to be at campus right now given the state of the Covid pandemic. Priorities definitely need to be rearranged.”

The reality of institutions across the country locking down anytime in the coming months is a very real worry for students. So tackle their anxieties head on. You may not know what the next year will bring, and that’s okay. Just let your students know that you have plans in place (and make sure you do!) for whichever way this pandemic takes us. So students can make their own plans. They’re worried, fed up of being demonised by the media and press, and they just need support. Keep those lines of communication open, tackle the future proactively together, and know they’re doing what they have to. 

If there’s any way we can offer you support, through insight or audience understanding, get in touch

Eleana Davidson
Eleana Davidson on 7 October 2020