Everyone is talking about working from home, but what about the university students?
Being a master’s student is no different from being an undergraduate at the moment, with a lack of proper communication about what universities are actually doing (even lectures seem a bit lost), and I won’t even start on tuition fees. Lectures going online, and solid communication that there would be no real life summer exams (Loughborough), and a dissertation that involves interviewing people in real life. Everything is confusing, and that’s probably because universities don’t really know what is going on either.
I’m in quite a lucky position. I only have one module left (after the Easter break) and a dissertation to write. However, that one module was supposed to include a ‘field trip’ (oh how American) to Chelsea FC training ground looking at the digital technology they use. That is obviously not happening, and even as a Tottenham fan I am utterly gutted. Instead the module will now be taught online (logs on to Greater Anglia and gets a refund for said train tickets already bought) in a virtual capacity. However, there is group work involved and who knows how that will go down now. I’m pretty gutted and somewhat annoyed, but health is more important than anything right now.
In terms of my dissertation, meetings with my supervisor are over Skype and I don’t know how I am supposed to interview key social media managers at EPL / FAWSL football clubs, or how my dissertation will even work now. For anyone interested it is going to be on how EPL clubs use Twitter (business goals and the content they produce) in comparison to the women’s equivalent (same club name) competing currently in the WSL. However, I wanted to look at twitter data, and unless I pick a random week in December or January (that’s a lot of scrolling) it is just not going to be feasible given the current times and how content is now very different to what it was just a month ago. Anyway, that’s my problem for another day.
I still have deadlines for previous modules – one involving group work, which luckily I have an amazing group for and we work well over Whatsapp and Google Docs – but working remotely for group work is hard. I have an ‘exam’ coming up for the same module which is now an open book online 24 hour exam (yet the module leader has told us precisely nothing – nothing new there).
There is a real lack of communication. Okay that’s a slight lie, being a master’s student we get all the generic emails for the main campus, and I am studying at the London campus. The stuff that gets sent out isn’t very clear, and it’s all very stressful.
The real question is, will I still have to pay my tuition fees in May which are slightly higher than for undergrads (yes my degree is £10,500 and I do get a Government loan, but Loughborough will still want their money). Personally, I would like a slight reduction with teaching online and without using the facilities on campus.
Nothing has been said about students. We have heard about schools, and adults working in the real world, but what about the thousands of students in the UK who are now left very confused and uncertain?
I’m in a lucky situation where my course doesn’t finish till September, and hopefully by December the pandemic might have calmed down and I can still have my graduation. However, this time last year I was stressed out with my dissertation and about summer exams, and my graduation (on a very hot sweaty day in July) was something that I was looking forward to. Four years of education and a £27,000 piece of paper, but graduation is special, and why should a whole cohort miss out? Surly Universities will have to give these students a chance to have their graduation ceremonies next year?
As a master’s student the reality is, is that it is all very confusing, draining, and a stressful situation. There is of course uncertainty everywhere, but the one group of people that the Government, the news, or anything else seems to be forgetting is undergraduates and post grads who are still paying thousands and missing out.
I know our health means more than anything right now, but some clarity over fees would be helpful. The lectures going online are pretty great as my commute will be from my bed to my desk / dining room table, instead of an hour 20 minutes train and £22 (I hate you Greater Anglia fyi if you haven’t noticed). All I hope is that this is over quickly, but it’s just mad the world we are currently living in.
Stay safe. Stay indoors, and dear the UK government don’t forget about university students x