Back to school: What it's like to study at a British university in the pandemic

With the coronavirus crisis and the academic year beginning, many students are still apprehensive about how universities will offer courses going forward. With this in mind, it is important to highlight some measures that British universities are taking and what the experience of studying at Middlesex University London during the pandemic.

In the UK, the government's word is what it counts. There is no possibility for universities not to follow the rules, which means that educational institutions must constantly update themselves so that they can be in line with the latest rules. Although the UK has started to return to normalcy, the increase in face-to-face contact has also pushed up the number of cases, causing the government to implement restrictions again, and impacting the possibility of face-to-face classes at universities. Check out some measures that are being taken by higher education institutions in the face of the pandemic:

Social distancing - Most universities do not even have face-to-face classes. However, as some still have some buildings open to the public for access to resources such as laptops, printers and laboratories, social distancing is mandatory. It is also common to find hand sanitizer at various points, and markings along the buildings to facilitate distancing.

Use of digital resources – From my own experience, even before the pandemic, some universities have already made all reading material available online, through apps. With the pandemic, many institutions began to offer online classes on platforms such as Zoom, and recordings that students can access through student portals. In addition, it is common to use online forums and digital resources that allow discussions around the content. Middlesex University London, for example, even offers free laptops for students to borrow, to ensure everyone has access to the platforms.

Mental health - An aspect much talked about and seen as important by British institutions is mental health. In addition to free psychological counseling, many universities have started to invest even more heavily in the mental health of students, offering even more support and advice, and partnering with start-ups and apps that aim to reduce stress and pressure on students.

Fair rating – As the pandemic has affected or even interrupted the studies of many young people, many British universities have started to offer more flexibility in the requirements to enter some courses. These measures are intended to provide a fair assessment of applicants' grades, considering aspects other than academic grades. Industry experience, work, internships and other interests can contribute positively to an applicant's success in trying to provide a fair selection for everyone.

Curious? In the link below you can also check out how some universities are reacting and contributing to the fight against the coronavirus. How about one day being part of one of them?

https://universitiesuk.ac.uk/covid19/supporting-national-effort/Documents/we-are-together-case-studies-covid-19.pdf

Gabriel Berwanger

Middlesex University London

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