This is what life is like for a UCLan student in Preston during Covid-19

What is it really like for the thousands of students whose life at university is like none who have gone before?

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 3:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 3:54 pm

UCLan Sports Journalism student Jack Goodwin, who is from Penwortham, talks us through it in his video and diary....


A few weeks into term and campus is still strangely quiet. Most courses are online but Sports Journalism is a very practical course so we are being taught face-to-face for some of the week. I was excited to go back in to see my mates again – it’s been six months since I last saw most of them and can barely recognise them in masks. UCLan is providing free masks which is really helpful because I forgot mine!

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UCLan Sports Journalism student Jack Goodwin

Once in class, we can unmask but still have to try to keep 2m apart. A classroom for 28 can only allow 12 – most desks have had their computers removed. It’s a strange feeling knowing you have to keep a distance from your mates wand despite what you see on the tv news, most of us are trying to follow the social distancing guidance.

Today we’re learning about camera work and doing interviews. When the tutor wants to review our work, she has to remask and look over our shoulder.

There’s extra interest because a film crew form ITV news comes into class and interviews us about the covid-19 restrictions and the new three-tier system. Some of my classmates do interviews but like everyone else, we’re not sure what it all really means either.

In the afternoon class I’m trying to do a feature story on footballer Jadon Sancho. There’s banter despite the distancing so we are getting used to it – sort of. With the distancing, so few students around, “keep left” stickers everywhere and the hand sanitiser, it does feel safe on campus.


0900 and I have to get up for a module about covering live tv events which we are doing online. In one way it’s easier to sit in bed watching the lesson on my tablet than commuting into the campus, but I do miss spending time with other people in person. I’ll never take that for granted once Covid-19 has gone.

In the afternoon we are learning shorthand and the lecturer teaches it on camera with a mini whiteboard. I was originally worried my shorthand would never develop as I sat at home but it’s a really good forum in which none of us are afraid to speak up if we are confused.

One of the reasons I liked this sports journalism course was because of the opportunities to work with professionals on work placements. Many of these opportunities have been cancelled until into 2021 but fortunately I already have contacts at BBC Radio Cumbria and they ask me report on a game tonight. Life isn’t what it was but I’m trying to grab whatever opportunities there are, and it was fantastic to see all the fans in the stadium at Trafford.


I’m glad we are not doing all our learning remotely by computer but there are some benefits to this pandemic.

Lots of personalities from the world of sport and journalism have been willing to talk to students and give us some tips about our future careers.

I think they’re as glad as we are to do so something different. In recent months we’ve had guest sessions with former Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, tv presenter Gaby Logan, and even the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Today we have football commentator Clive Tylesdsley – someone else who probably would never have time to come onto the Preston campus. Many of us are big fans, and all of a sudden the pandemic has its positives, for now anyway.


Today has a bit of a logistical challenge because in the morning we have media ethics which is taught on campus followed by shorthand which is taught online.

This means I have to get out of class, grab something to eat and make my way home quickly in time to log on again.

The ethics class has to be face-to-face because it’s completely reliant on us being able to debate issues such as phone hacking, the paparazzi and undercover filming. We all have different views and there’s always a heated debate – but that only happens because we’re in the same room and can have eye contact as we agree to disagree.

Doing this via computers would be stilted and boring when actually it’s a module we really enjoy.

Lunch is challenging because the UCLan canteen is set out so only one person per table. Usually we’d all be in there in one big group talking about football or clubbing, but this year we have to sit on the outside on the benches in groups of no more than six, if weather permits! We usually have table tennis and pool to play but all of that has been taken away.

It’s a quick sandwich on the hoof today so I can head home for shorthand which I can report is coming on really well.


There are a few people on the course in quarantine because they have been in contact with positive cases – they’re being set work to do at home to help catch up. So far we haven’t had anyone on our course test positive and compared to other university cities, we seem to have escaped the worst so far.

The news agenda is packed with stories from Manchester and Newcastle, which reminds us in Preston to keep our distances.

Today we should be in our professional radio studios for a newsday, one of the highlights of the course when we produce sports bulletins all day long.

Today that’s going to have to happen online with only a few students on campus with the tutor. It’s strange having a full day working with people via a screen but it’s still enjoyable and we all did well and improved as the day went on.

When speaking to past graduates they have always said that news days are the best part of the course and with the pandemic, we were worried we may miss out.

Fortunately, our lecturers have found an effective and safe way to still put on news days! It felt like we were in the journalism business already – let’s hope further restrictions don’t stop future experiences like this


Because I commentate for hospital radio in Preston, I am lucky enough to have access to home games for Preston North End.

It’s strange to be outside the Deepdale stadium as I’m tested by one Covid-19 official and the ticket office is boarded up.

There’s no water flowing from Sir Tom Finney statue. I’m glad I’m here and it’s a privilege to have such access but it’s definitely not the same game without fans.

It all feels very safe, but the after-match press conference with the manager and a player is held over Zoom instead of face to face.

I really miss the buzz of the interview room after the matches, and the opportunities to talk to other journalists about the game.

The pandemic is certainly making life challenging but I am determined to make the most of every opportunity.