University students say the two biggest struggles as a result of COVID-19 have been the lack of face-to-face teaching and practical experience (79%) and their mental health and wellbeing (77%).
In a survey of 2,000 students, more than three quarters (77%) said they had struggled with their mental health and wellbeing, followed by difficulties making friends (56%) as a result of COVID-19. However, 84% of students agree that engaging in university life has had a positive impact on their mental health.
Demand for returning to university remains overwhelmingly high: 86% students are keen to get onto university campus once it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, 79% of students said they wanted to receive some face-to-face teaching in the third term, if restrictions are eased.
In addition, almost two in three students (62%) are likely to return to their student accommodation for their third term if lockdown restrictions are eased, with 47% saying they're very likely to do so.
The top priorities for students planning to return or stay on campus for their third term are: continuing with studies as best they can (68%), being with friends and peers (63%) and the potential for in-person teaching (43%).
Commenting on the findings: Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, said: 'Although COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted students' lives, it's welcome to see the boost that engaging in university life has provided.'
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Students' mental health hit by COVID-19, but majority say university life has positive effect. BDJ Student 28, 6–7 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41406-021-0216-4