University 'sorry' that students suffered poor mental health and felt 'lost' and 'alone' during pandemic

A Lancashire university is apologetic after students battled poor mental health during the pandemic. In a recent survey, most students said they were dissatisfied with how the government handled their return to university and some want their tuition fees refunded.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 1:36 pm
The entrance to Lancaster University's Main Campus. Some students say their university experience has been greatly affected by the pandemic.

University students across the country were permitted to return to in-person lectures on May 17- more than two months after primary and secondary school pupils returned to the classroom.

A survey of over 1,000 students carried out by grade tracking app 'UniMate' found that 69 per cent suffered worse mental health than in previous years, 67 per cent did not feel prepared for final exams, and 77 per cent felt the government handled their return poorly.

Close to 100 per cent said they would like their tuition fees to be refunded.

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Students filled in the survey in return for a chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher and answered questions about their university experience during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Periods of isolation during virtual lectures and lockdowns seem to have taken a toll on the students and their mental health.

One first-year Lancaster University student said: “For the first time I have felt completely alone. I’ve become far less social and withdraw from social situations every way I can."

The student says that they 'know no one' on their course and that this affected them academically.

They claimed that they 'have no one to turn to for help'.

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More than half of the survey respondents said poor mental health impacted their academic performance.

A different student from Lancaster University said they found it 'hard being away from friends for so long'.

Another said that they felt 'lost, overwhelmed, like I'm not good enough to be doing my degree'.

Survey responses suggest that 30 per cent of students reached out to mental health services this academic year.

Rebecca Lockwood, a Lancaster University student, said: "Social media 'confession pages', which often get taken down, saw a lot of posts focused on loneliness.

"A lot of students feel let down by universities which said they could 'come back and have a university experience' which wasn't the case."

The student journalist has been reporting on poor mental health among students during the pandemic.

"Second and third-years could come back and had friends that they couldn't see but that they knew were there, whereas first-years didn't have that at all and struggled to meet people," she said.

Rebecca claims that some university mental health support staff were furloughed during the first lockdown.

Lancaster University did not confirm whether or not support staff had been placed on furlough and said its well-being services were open 'throughout the pandemic'.

A spokesperson for the university said: "Student wellbeing is very important to us and we are very sorry to hear of any student who has experienced difficulty during this time.

"We now have two duty officers and a college wellbeing officer on campus every day to support students with urgent needs. We also have a team of colleagues seeing students every day remotely for therapeutic appointments.

"Student feedback from Michaelmas term [September to December] indicated 82 per cent of students either agreed or strongly agreed that their practitioner was supportive and 76 per cent would recommend the service to other students."

The spokesperson urged all students to contact the university for help if they need it and students can access more information via the university's mental health services webpage.

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