Insights into Student Experiences of Covid19: An Annotated Bibliography - SHU Blogs

 
Insights into Student Experiences of Covid19: An Annotated Bibliography

This annotated bibliography provides a snapshot of research data and opinion collated during the
emergency transition to online learning (March-July 2020). These questions will be addressed

    1. Has the cease of face to face teaching across the HE sector protected the health and safety
       of students and staff?
    2. Have changes in delivery across the HE sector been effectively communicated to current
       students so that the health and safety of students and staff is protected?
    3. Has the HE sector/individual providers made all reasonable efforts to provide alternative
       teaching and support for students that are broadly equivalent to the usual arrangements?
    4. Has the HE sector /individual providers supported students’ learning following a change in
       the delivery of a course so that successes in teaching and learning will be broadly equivalent
       to expected student outcomes?

There is also a final section titled ‘Emerging Silences’ which looks at areas of the research not
covered by the questions above.

Has the ceas e of face to face teaching acros s the HE s ector protected the health and
s afety of s tudents and s taff?

Hanover Research. (2020). National Online Learning Survey, May 2020. Available at
https://insights.hanoverresearch.com/hubfs/National-Online-Learning-Survey.pdf

The author is committed to provide research which facilitates institution executives to make
informed decisions, identify and seize opportunities, and heighten their effectiveness. Hence, in
their paper, the survey results were critical in locating opportunities to creating effective online
learning environments. The survey was designed to explore the stakeholders prior experience with
online courses, the impact of moving to an online environment, desired features for online classes
and concerns regarding COVID-19. Participants who completed the survey were sampled across 33
colleges in the United States and they ranged from students, faculty, staff and parents of students.
Since ceasing face to face learning, physical health was not a top concern in comparison to issues
related directly to quality of learning. Stakeholders suggest that appropriate action was taken to
shield students and faculty from physical harm to their health. However, students across all
academic levels worry about their mental and emotional health; as well as being socially isolated.
Thus, it was deductively recommended to widen access to mental and emotional support. Authors
also put forward a suggestion for institutions to coordinate virtual gatherings and activities to ease
hardships introduced by social isolation. This study offers some important insights from a wide range

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
of stakeholders whose experiences and views would have otherwise been overlooked. The study is
limited by the lack of specificity of federal states to which the universities belonged to, this is
because they are governed by department of education guidelines differently for the different
states. Furthermore, with the large sample pool, it was not possible to stratify the results to
understand the experiences of diverse groups of students.

National Union of Students (2020). Coronavirus and Students Survey. NUS insight. Available at
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/covid-19-and-students-survey-report

The author, as a body, has a responsibility to listen and understand the students' voice. In this
survey, the aim was to understand more about how students feel about the current COVID-19
pandemic. The survey was conducted between 27 March and 6 April 2020. The sample consisted of
9872 students across the UK, 53% were female and 47% male. Recruitment for the survey was
promoted through various sites, including NUS student databases, social media, student unions and
TOTUM database. The sample consisted of 87% UK citizens and the rest were international students.
This survey sampled both HE and FE. The author(s) tried to reflect a student population where
possible by applying weighing. Weighting was applied to the data in this report so that the
overrepresented group, females, are down weighted and the under-represented group, males, are
up weighted. Other HESA statistics are highlighted in the demographic section where relevant and
comparable. Almost two thirds of the participants (62%) of students are somewhat or very scared of
contracting Covid-19, this concern increases with age. A minority of participants (23%) indicated that
they were prepared to manage their health if they contract Covid-19. While 93% of students are
practicing social distancing, 40% of students reveal that they are not very aware of how to apply
preventative measures around shared accommodation. 74% of those interviewed indicated that
they were experiencing a negative impact on family life and a further 88% are experiencing a
negative impact on their social lives. This has had an impact on stress and health including loss of
focus or concentration. The study oversampled on students from the UK; HESA statistics indicate
that students from the UK account for 80% of HE population. The survey also oversampled for
students identifying as white despite HESA statistics indicating that white students form 76% of the
student population. This work contributes to emergent knowledge on impact of Covid- 19 by
covering a range of topics of concern.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
UNITU (2020) Supporting HE through COVID19, March 2020.Available at
https://unitu.co.uk/supporting-he-through-covid-19/ (log in required)

The author's platform helps universities and student unions to collect and analyse student feedback
in real time and deliver faster improvements to the student experience. This study was designed to
clarify how the student voice can support efforts to operate in the current Covid-19 crisis. This helps
to determine the ways in which the authors' platform can support HE during COVID-19, why it is so
imperative to engage with students during times of crisis; and why the current engagement,
feedback and communication model isn’t necessarily providing everything required. The online
platform had over 1000 feedback posts with significantly higher number of students (57 000) logging
on approximately 2.5 times on average. This resulted in about 730,000 interactions such as page
views, comments, votes, and posts across the platform. This surge in activity has influenced
materialisation of this study. Some of the issues posted on the platform included welfare concerns
(what to do if a housemate tested positive for the virus) and generalised anxieties related to
reaching their academic outcomes. Both students and staff have engaged on the platform by
responding to question for instance. Thus, the platform has closed to gap in delayed communication
which likely eases anxieties. Being limited to 13 institutions, the platform opened up access to all
students thus the insights gained from this platform can be of assistance to other institutions. The
platform is however prone to misuse despite their measures to minimise this.

Neves, J and Hewitt, R. (2020) Student Academic Experience Survey 2020. Available at
https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Student-Academic-Experience-
Survey-2020.pdf

The author's agency (AdvanceHE) was established to shape the higher education policy debate
through evidence. This article is part of routine survey that has been running for several years. The
aim of this survey is to channel the student voice in shaping and informing decision making. The
Survey was designed and developed in partnership between the Higher Education Policy Institute
(HEPI) and Advance HE, with online panel interviews independently conducted by two organisations
– YouthSight and Pureprofile. 10,227 responses were collected from both sites, representing a
response rate of 18% from the invites. 56% of females were represented and the 44% were male
respondents across the UK. The timing of the survey was pre-lockdown (February) to April when face
to face contact was ceased in universities. From previous versions of the survey student mental
health and levels of wellbeing have been lower in general compared to the general population. This
is mostly common with undergraduate students as highlighted by this survey. The authors revel that

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
anxiety among the participants has improved this year despite the current Covid-19 impact. Other
aspects of wellbeing remain on a negative trend, signifying that efforts need to be scaled up across
the sector especially as it remains a major concern for undergraduate students. Covid-19 negatively
impacted the happiness measure, but other measures do not appear impacted. As other measures
are not impacted, it appears the general decline in student wellbeing (both overall and compared to
the national population) do not appear to be due to the timing of this year’s Survey. Wellbeing also
remains concerning for students identifying as LGBT+, with life satisfaction, life worthwhile and
happiness all dropping to their lowest levels yet. The author(s) have applied weighting to the
responses to ensure the sample is balanced and reflective of the full-time student population as a
whole, and to provide consistency in approach with previous years. The fieldwork period included
pre-Covid and post Covid times, hence some data has been presented to signify its significant impact
on higher education institutions. Strike action has also influenced perceptions of the value of
education and support they have received, pre & post COVID which impacts on the overall student
experience.

Hanover Research (2020) Best practices in online learning for at risk Students, April 2020, Available
at https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3409306/Best-Practices-in-Online-Learning-for-At-Risk-
Students.pdf

Hanover Research is committed to providing research which facilitates executives to make informed
decisions, identify and seize opportunities, and heighten their effectiveness. In this study, the author
aims to evaluate best practices for supporting students in an online learning environment while
focusing on how to support vulnerable students such as first generation, academically at risk and
low-income learners. An analysis of best practices for online teaching was done based on three US
institutions. The author reveals that with the limited face to face interactions, some institutions
realise how remote learning presents risk to mental health. As a result, institutions are working to
maintain counselling services for students by offering telephone or video therapy appointments.
Some institutions with clinicians have already implemented virtual sessions with students. The
generalisability of these results is subject to certain limitations. For instance, only institutions in the
US were spotlighted. Nevertheless, this study contributes to the rapidly growing discourse of
ensuring experiences of marginalised students are transformed.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
Hanover Research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

The author is committed to providing research which facilitates executives to make informed
decisions, identify and seize opportunities, and heighten their effectiveness. The author set out to
address 3 key questions; How have current undergraduate and graduate students been impacted by
COVID-19? , What challenges do these students face in continuing and completing their education? ,
and how have colleges and universities responded to the COVID-19 crisis? The author conducted a
national survey of more than 1,000 current bachelors', masters', and doctoral students (aged
between 18 and 30) enrolled at institutions in the United States. The survey was administered online
in April 2020. The analysis presented includes a total of 1,015 respondents following data cleaning to
remove low-quality responses. Respondents’ top concerns include their mental and emotional well-
being, including the impact of social isolation. About half of students remain worried about a range
of academic challenges, including the quality of online education and falling behind in their
coursework. Mental health is a top concern that will determine whether students will return for the
next academic year. Just over half of respondents (51%) reported that their institution’s response to
COVID-19 has worsened their connection to their classmates, while a large minority (40%) feel less
connected to their instructors. Many students feel where responses to address this concern have
been availed, they do not think that they are effective. Hence, the need to prioritise mental and
emotional health was highlighted by the authors. A limitation of this is that females were
overrepresented (72%).

UNITE and StandAlone et. al. (2020) Supporting care-experienced and estranged students in higher
education – responding to Covid-19 (April 2020). Available at
https://www.unitefoundation.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2020/04/CovidResponseGroupSurvey20
20.pdf

The authors were mostly writing to advice UK, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments to
enact vital emergency support activities. The survey conducted aimed to understand the challenges
which students without family support were facing during this Covid-19 crisis and the additional
support they would like to ensure they could continue their courses or graduate this year. 251
students who are either care-experienced or estranged responded to the UK-wide survey of higher
education students. Many students (55%) without family support were worried about their mental
and emotional wellbeing due to social isolation. Authors revealed the increased stress and anxiety
this group of students had about the present moment and the future. The survey gathered that
some institutions continued to provide help through named contacts for care-experienced and

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
estranged students and made efforts to signpost to other support services. This also coupled with
moving appointments for counselling and other services online and establishing online social groups
for those remaining on campus. It is suggested that these virtual arrangements should continue, and
institutions should facilitate peer interactions and social groups particularly for those remaining on
campus. This survey has provided timely information that is very specific by identifying ways to
immediately upscale support for a vulnerable group of students who would have otherwise been
overlooked. Notwithstanding the relatively limited sample, this lays the groundwork for
understanding experiences of marginalised groups of students.

Pearson and Wonkhe (2020) The expectation Gap. Rethinking student experience for the Covid
era. https://wonkhe.com/wp-content/wonkhe-uploads/2020/07/Pearson-Wonkhe-student-
expectations-survey-published-version.pdf

There are only a few examples of national research that explores how students have experienced
learning during Covid-19 and what their hopes and fears are for the future. This paper aims to
address this deficit. A convenience sample of 3,461 students was recruited via 13 participating
students’ union subscribers to Wonkhe SUs. A survey ran from 18 June to 2 July 2020. This was
supplemented with focus group discussions with participating SUs. The findings suggest that the
sector should continue to focus and invest in student wellbeing. 41% of the surveyed students said
they had struggled to manage their wellbeing in the absence of face to face engagement. A further
34% of respondents said that learning in a new way and format had been challenging, and 34% said
they were struggling with managing their own time and schedule and 29% said they found isolation
difficult. The students’ unions who participated in the focus groups warned of the impact of the
combination of emotional and practical challenges on students’ confidence and motivation. One of
the practical challenges highlighted by 34% is the difficulties in finding a quiet space to study in their
current living environment. The survey highlighted that students' wellbeing is suffering but the
solutions to the issues are in the teaching and learning domain, rather than the welfare domain. The
students’ unions indicated that they were nervous about the year ahead especially anxious about
the prospect of large numbers of dissatisfied students seeking reimbursement, and anxious about
how to continue to offer students opportunities for social interaction, extra-curricular activities and
representation. The contribution of this study has been to draw lessons from earlier impacts of
Covid-19 to direct future learning.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
Have changes in delivery acros s the HE s ector been effectively communicated to
current s tudents s o that the health and s afety of s tudents and s taff is protected ?

National Union of Students (2020). Coronavirus and Students Survey. NUS insight. Available at
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/covid-19-and-students-survey-report

About three quarters of international students feel that changes were communicated thoroughly in
the transition to remote learning: as well as with their Tier 4 visa responsibilities. Generally, the
student population felt that they were provided with timely support and practical advice.
Furthermore, over half of the students agree that their institutions are managing the crisis well.
About two thirds of students between ages 18 and 22 years in the UK need further guidance and
communication on how work will be accessed. A third of students were extremely concerned about
impact of COVID -19 on exams and assesments, this was a higher concern for those in Northern
Ireland as communication seemed delayed. A third of students were anxious about the process of
enrolment for the next semester and plans for lesson delivery as no future plans were
communicated at the time of the survey.

Higher Education Policy Institute (2020). Students’ views on the impact of Coronavirus on their
higher education experience. https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/HEPI-Policy-
Note-24_Coronavirus_FINAL.pdf

The authors institute was established to shape the higher education policy debate through evidence.
The aim for this study was to provide useful evidence for universities in their planning for the next
academic year, particularly addressing where students’ expectations differ from reality. The author
conducted a survey of over 1,000 full-time undergraduate students between 12 and 16 June 2020.
One-in-five students (19%) say they have had ‘very clear’ communications on Covid-19 from their
higher education institutions (down from 31% in March). Two-thirds of students feel positive about
the communications, three times higher than the proportion who have negative feelings about the
communications. A further 66% say the communications are ‘very clear’ or ‘quite clear’ against 21%
who say they are ‘quite unclear’ or ‘very unclear’. Nearly half of students feel that they have
received clear communications about the next academic year from their HE institution, with 10%
indicating that the communications about next year have been ‘very clear’ and 33% ‘quite clear’.
This study is a timely source which compares to a study they conducted earlier into the lockdown. Its
strength lies in the ability to see how experiences and perceptions have changed since onset of the
crisis.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
Hanover research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

Most students report receiving email communication while a small significant number access the
information from institutional webpages. Generally, efforts have been made to provide health and
safety information to prevent the virus, which has been seen as effective. Least effective
communication was observed on how work-study arrangements, tuition and scholarships could be
affected by the pandemic. What students perceived as effective responses to COVID-19 have helped
shift their perceptions in favour of their institutions, with more than one-third reporting improved
perception and trust in the institution and its leadership. The survey has also shown that institutions’
responses to date on a number of issues are seen to be lacking; particularly in addressing longer-
term concerns such as updates on graduation.

UNITU (2020) Supporting HE through COVID19, March 2020.Available at
https://unitu.co.uk/supporting-he-through-covid-19/

As one example, UNITU has been useful in closing the communication gap between institutions and
students. This is evident from the increased traffic to the website since the lockdown. This platform
provides a sense of community amongst the student population. Other ways of engaging with
students can be slow and not able to attend to real time issues. Thus, the platform gives student
agency to question and clarify. This would otherwise overburden staff if it were to be communicated
via email exchanges. Staff engagement on the platform has increased by over 50% resulting to better
and fast communication on the platform.

Has the HE s ector/individual providers made all reas onable efforts to provide
alternative teaching and s upport for s tudents that are broadly equivalent to th e us ual
arrangements ?

Hanover Research. (2020). National Online Learning Survey May 2020.
https://insights.hanoverresearch.com/hubfs/National-Online-Learning-Survey.pdf

The survey has shown that efforts have been made to provide alternative support (including online
library support, on call technology support, recorded sessions, access to laptops, discus sion boards
for class material and financial assistance). Access to laptops which is deemed critical for successful
learning is not adequately supported by institutions represented in the survey. Although not
highlighted as a priority by respondents, results of this survey show that institutions have not made
significant efforts in ensuring access to financial assistance to ease engaging online. A common view

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
among faculty is that they are providing sufficient alternative support with recorded lectures and
Q&A sessions; this view was not echoed by students in the survey. The authors suggest that this gap
can be bridged by clearly communicating these alternatives to both staff and students.

UNITU (2020) Supporting HE through COVID19, March 2020.Available at
https://unitu.co.uk/supporting-he-through-covid-19/

Just over three quarters of the students agreed that their institutions have provided online learning
required to meet usual outcomes. However, over 20% of those have reported not having sufficient
access the online learning environment. Furthermore, over 30% of the respondents do not feel their
education is of a good standard or quality.

Higher Education Policy Institute (2020) Students’ views on the impact of Coronavirus on their
higher education experience. Available at https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-
content/uploads/2020/06/HEPI-Policy-Note-24_Coronavirus_FINAL.pdf

A slightly lower proportion of students revealed that they are quite or very satisfied with their online
teaching alternative, compared to previous polling conducted in March (42% now compared to 49%
in March). Most students are satisfied with the way their higher education institution has handled
their remaining assessments for this academic year with 20% indicating that they are ‘very satisfied’
and 43% saying that they are ‘quite satisfied’. Fewer students are satisfied with the online learning
that has replaced face-to-face teaching than they were in March; 42% are either ‘very satisfied’ or
‘quite satisfied’, compared to 49% in March. Thinking about the next academic year, around three-
quarters of students say they expect, some learning to be online (71%) and social distancing
measures across campuses (71%).

Hanover Research (2020) Best practices in online learning for at risk students (April 2020).
Available at https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3409306/Best-Practices-in-Online-Learning-for-At-
Risk-Students.pdf

This study acknowledges inequalities that limit high bandwidth internet connection issues especially
for rural based, low income or BME students. The authors suggest use of low bandwidth tools such
as WhatsApp or google forms to support learning for all. If the institution has resources, it is
suggested that distributing more laptops and mobile hotspots can increase access to online learning.
G-suite applications are also a low-cost effective way that can allow offline access. It is important

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
that institutions inform students of attractive internet packages to widen internet access. A survey of
1500 present and past online learners indicate that activities that are most useful are asynchronous
items (power points, textbooks, writing assignments they can consume and complete in their own
times). By contrast, only a third find synchronous items (zoom, adobe connect, etc) very helpful to
support their learning. Pre-course surveys to access preparedness for online leaning will also be a
priority in determining ways to support students.

Hanover research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

About half of students who responded to the survey remain worried about the quality of online
education. Experts hold the view that online education during COVID-19 is not meeting its full
potential. Without adequate time to prepare, educators may cancel classes or simply send materials
to students so they can teach themselves. Courses such as the arts or lab sciences, are less
conducive to online learning; hence they struggle to meet outcomes in an online environment. A
reasonable approach to ensure students reach learning outcomes might include developing
inductions to prepare students for online learning. This study also suggests that HE providers must
immediately begin developing a long-term digital learning plan, enhancing the quality of the
educational tools and delivery used during this transition period. The quality of online course
instruction is a determining factor in whether students remain enrolled at their current institutions
for the next academic year.

Montacute, M. and Holt-White, E. (2020) COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #2: University
Access & Student Finance (May2020), The Sutton Trust. https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-
content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-and-Social-Mobility-Impact-Brief-2.pdf

The Sutton Trust, which the authors are aligned to, is an educational charity in the UK which aims to
improve social mobility and address educational disadvantage. The Trust has produced a series of
impact briefs in response to the pandemic. The aim of this brief is to examine the ramifications of
the current crisis on university applicants and current undergraduate students, with a focus on
young people from less advantaged backgrounds. The brief looks at how schools, universities and
government can lessen the impact of the crisis on these students, to help ensure all young people,
no matter their background, continue to have the opportunity to both access and succeed at
university. A survey of university students was conducted by YouthSight for the Trust between the
9th and 14th of April to inform arguments. The study highlights that ability for students to take part

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
in online learning will differ. A small proportion does not have access to resources that facilitates
thriving in a new learning environment. To ensure everyone has access, institutions should provide
students with the required resources. 6% of students report that they do not have sufficient access
to computers or devices required for learning and assessment. 5% report that they do not have
sufficient internet access, and 23% report lack of access to suitable study space. Many universities
put in place “no detriment” policies, whereby results from assessments carried out during lockdown
will not reduce a student’s overall grade from those they had achieved previously. However, there
are concerns about how these policies will be put in place in practice, and that there could be wide
variation in approach by different institutions. The OfS is encouraged to monitor any impact on the
attainment of students from under-represented groups and to encourage universities to ensure the
impact of any policies on these students and the university attainment gap is considered and
carefully monitored.

Has the HE s ector /individual providers s upported s tudents ’ learning following a
change in the delivery of a cours e s o that s ucces s es in teaching and learning will be
broadly equivalent to expected s tudent outcomes ?

Hanover Research (2020). National Online Learning Survey (May 2020).
https://insights.hanoverresearch.com/hubfs/National-Online-Learning-Survey.pdf

Despite receiving guidance and technological support on delivering online support, surveyed staff
feels that they do not have effective advice on engaging students online. The study has also
highlighted similar views from students reporting feeling unengaged or unmotivated in online
courses. Hence, the authors call for enhanced efforts across different stakeholders to better engage
with students and support their overall learning experience from a distance. A reasonable approach
suggested by the authors is to promote student centred processes which can likely foster student
autonomy to have a drive to engage online. Notable activities that can support their learning include
online discussions, group projects, student presentations, chatrooms and active message boards.

National Union of Students (2020). Coronavirus and Students Survey. NUS insight. Available at
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/covid-19-and-students-survey-report

Of those surveyed students who receive learning support from their institution, just over half feel
they have received adequate support to enable them to continue their work to the best of their
ability remotely. Three quarters of students are concerned about the effect of Covid-19 on their final

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
course qualification. Support is still required to access resources to enable ability to carry out
academic work.

Montacute, M. and Holt-White, E. (2020) COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #2: University
Access & Student Finance (May2020), The Sutton Trust. https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-
content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-and-Social-Mobility-Impact-Brief-2.pdf

30% of students are unsatisfied with the financial support offered by their university during the
crisis, with 36% satisfied. However, many students are unsure, indicating a lack of awareness of what
support their university is offering. Additional financial support for students is vital both to ensure
current students can continue their courses, and access is not harmed for current university
applicants from families suffering from financial stresses due to Coronavirus. Universities should
bolster hardship funds where possible, including increasing awareness of such funds. But
government should also consider stepping in to offer emergency maintenance grants. Support
should be put in place urgently to help students who are struggling financially, for example through
specific support grants from government or universities (as has already been done in Scotland), or by
allowing students to temporarily claim Universal Credit. Another suggestion includes allowing re-
taken exams without additional tuition fees.

Jonathan Neves (Advance HE) and Rachel Hewitt (HEPI). 2020. Student Academic Experience
Survey 2020. https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Student-Academic-
Experience-Survey-2020.pdf

The survey did not show any tangible difference in the experience pre- or post Covid-19 in how
teaching staff support independent study. Hence, while it was revealed above that students felt the
lack of face-to-face classes due to Covid-19 tainted their view on value-for-money, there is little
evidence that the quality of the teaching has been impacted.

Higher Education Policy Institute (2020). Students’ views on the impact of Coronavirus on their
higher education experience. https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/HEPI-Policy-
Note-24_Coronavirus_FINAL.pdf

Just under half of the students indicated that they are satisfied with the delivery of support services
such as; careers support and mental health support during lockdown. Only 13% are ‘very satisfied’

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
and 31% are ‘quite satisfied’. This might suggest neglection of the non-academic support services in
HE.

Hanover Research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

As the duration of the crisis lengthens, institutions must ensure they provide the academic, career,
mental, and emotional support services that will help students adapt to and succeed in this new
environment. Areas for universities to focus on include academic and social support structures,
community building, and administration. The survey shows that most students feel uncertain about
their institution’s response, indicating a key opportunity to change whether students return in the
next semester.

UNITE and StandAlone et. al. (2020) Supporting care-experienced and estranged students in higher
education – responding to Covid-19 (April 2020). Available at
https://www.unitefoundation.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2020/04/CovidResponseGroupSurvey20
20.pdf

Students reported lacking access to equipment and software to facilitate online study, having
worries about deadlines, poor communication on exams and future plans, and poor understanding
from staff about their personal circumstances. 62% said they were worried about their ability to
complete their courses. 55% said they felt informed about how Covid-19 affected their college or
university. All students need consistent and regular communication on support with their concerns
so that they can study at home. Examples of support from institutions includes immediate
extensions to assignment deadlines and cancellation of exams, in some cases automatic progression
to the next year of study, as well as regular contact from tutors and support with independent
remote working (for instance; study equipment and skills support). It is important to recognise that
not all students without family networks will have access to the support they need to remain on
their courses. Ensuring that these students can continue their studies requires immediate efforts
from institutions, sector bodies and governments. Institutions should liaise with accommodation
providers for care experienced and estranged students to prevent homelessness. Governments
should require universities to conduct an audit of their students’ access to the IT equipment
necessary to complete their courses and make available loan equipment to those without the
necessary resources to work remotely.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
EMERGING SILENCES

National Union of Students (2020). Coronavirus and Students Survey. NUS insight. Available at
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/covid-19-and-students-survey-report

This survey indicated that finances are a real concern for students right now; either as a result of
their own employment being negatively impacted or someone who supports them financially being
negatively impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. This has resulted in changes to living standards and
spending habits. This is also worsened by no access to government support or caring responsibilities
and accommodation related payments/contracts. Other key concerns are job applications, especially
for third years, and employability for all final years, international students and women.

Hanover Research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

Many students are concerned with the financial impacts of the current situation. They are concerned
about the long-term economic and public health implications of the crisis and may prefer less
expensive educational options if they are not able to return to their current institution. Additional
financial aid opportunities or non-traditional delivery or credentials may engage a subset of students
as they navigate this new environment. More certainty with scholarships or grants is also required
for students to consider returning to their institutions. Though most students plan to return to their
current institution, the total number is still below the average retention rate. 77% of students are
likely to return to their current institution this fall, lower than the benchmark average of 81%.
Institutions that have been very effective at responding to COVID-19 have a 35-percentage point
higher likelihood of students returning in the fall. International students may need additional
flexibility to navigate personal and geopolitical challenges to maximize potential for return in fall
term. They are 31 percentage points less likely to return in the next academic year. Virus risk levels
and travel restrictions may affect countries differently and at different times, and U.S. higher
education providers may need to consider whether they can provide flexibility to international
students when requiring or assisting with application and enrolment materials, visa processing, and
travel and housing plans. This study offers some insight on possible ways to support students
returning for their studies; although it was drawn from a study in the US lessons can be learnt for UK
schools.

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
Singh, G. (2020) Supporting Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) students during the COVID-19
crisis. (April 2020). https://shadesofnoir.org.uk/supporting-black-asian-minority-ethnic-bame-
students-during-the-covid-19-crisis/

As an Associate Professor of Equity of Attainment at an institution in the UK, the authors penned this
overview to encourage reflective thinking and action. The aim of this literature review is to support
academic and support staff to provide inclusive responses in these difficult times which, though
focussing specifically on BAME students, will be relevant for all students. Although it is premature to
quantify the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, current understanding of marginalisation of those from
BAME backgrounds makes it likely for them to experience higher levels of disadvantage. BAME
students are more likely to be affected by the economic fallout triggered by COVID-19 which may
adversely impact their capacity to engage and complete assessments online. Staff and student
unions should come up with creative solutions to sensitively address this. This can include provision
of additional funds and also putting efforts to highlight available financial support. Furthermore it
has been established that physical and mental health problems impacts overall student participation
and academic performance. However, this is likely to be amplified by the Covid 19 crisis. BAME
communities are disproportionately affected due to a range of existing disparities such as housing
conditions, environment, immigration status, access to information, income inequality and general
levels of stress. BAME students are more likely to have closer family ties with extended family and it
is possible that they may feel more emotionally attached to illness and bereavement amongst within
their kinship networks. It is also important for institutions to pay attention to existing issues which
might be sharpened in the short term or longer term such as, unconscious bias, sense of alienation
from the institution, structural disadvantage and managing to balance home, work and university
pressures. This observation should help institutions to uphold their moral obligation to ensuring all
students, but especially the vulnerable are provided with appropriate levels of holistic support in
meeting their outcomes. The bigger picture is to move from crisis management to stabilisation and
growth which will require collective efforts.

The Coronavirus outbreak is compounding existing racial stereotypes, especially against those
students who may be perceived to be ‘outsiders’ such as some international students. For example,
there is evidence of Chinese Students wearing facemasks being harassed and worse. This likely
makes such students vulnerable and insecure. Therefore, it is critical for all HE institutions to
humanise every interaction and encounter with students to create a safe and trustful relationship
with students so they can freely express their feelings and experiences. This study does not base its
arguments on more current readings or student feedback, but it makes some important links to

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
what is already known in the wider literature. This allows for quick response to anticipated issues
that may disproportionately affect BAME students in this time of crisis.

Thomas, L. (2020) Engaging commuter students during and after the Covid-19 pandemic (June
2020). Available at https://www.ukat.uk/media/1477/engaging-commuter-students-during-after-
the-covid-19-pandemic.pdf

The author works with institutions to improve student experience and outcomes in higher education
and beyond. This review focuses on commuter students, acknowledging their challenges and
identifying ways to better engage with them. Ordinarily 'commuter students' is a term used to refer
to around 25% of the student population who choose to stay in the family home whilst studying in
higher education. Majority of students are now classified as commuter students in the current
context where a lot of students have returned home and are all working remotely. Being a
commuter student intersects with other disadvantages such as being ‘more likely to be the first
generation in their families to enter higher education, having a lower income, being a mature
student, being from an ethnic minority background’, more likely to be from a lower socio-economic
group, and coming from a state school. Subsequently, they tend to have poorer outcomes than
students who relocate to study: lower rates of belonging; lower rates of continuation; less likely to
get highly classified degree; more likely to experience academic failure; and less likely to be
employed in a graduate job. Generally, commuter students are more likely to face a number of
challenges during and post the Covid-19 pandemic, including; financial hardship, lack of a quiet study
space, digital divide, caring responsibilities, health issues, bereavement, plus for black and ethnic
minorities in particular, greater likelihood of being affected directly by Covid-19 especially BAME
students, and additional challenges relating to unconscious bias and racial harassment in their
learning experience and more widely. Taken together, these elements will contribute to lower
engagement, and may reinforce a lack of belonging – which supports student success in HE. The
author suggests several courses of action to make teaching online inclusive.

Setting up group and one to one activity amongst students and with staff encourages familiarity
which is likely to encourage engagement. Creation of safe spaces, with ground rules will enable
people to participate, and reveals institutions' commitment to diversity and inclusion. Institutions
should promote use of social media preferred by students to allow them to interact beyond formal
institutional channels and encourage informal dialogue. Steps should be taken to review the
curriculum and look for ways to diversify by including students, for instance; reviewing the reading
list, including more diverse examples, case studies and problems, inviting external speakers and
finding opportunities for student-led contributions. Provision of diverse and flexible assessments will

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
ensure students demonstrate learning outcomes while traditional modes are disrupted. Continued
efforts are needed to ensure there are opportunities for one to one meetings where students can
freely share their challenges, for example Primary Education at Edge Hill have an initiat ive called
‘Just ask me if I’m OK’. Each student is emailed personally once a month by their tutor and asked if
they are OK. Students send a numerical score 1-9, and those responding with 5 or under are
followed up. Additional support services should be integrated into the curriculum and available 24/7,
including pastoral support, academic development, financial support and IT support. This
information gathered from delivery challenges endured because of Covid-19 provides opportunities
to create a more inclusive learning environment. The findings reported here shed new light on how
Covid-19 can impact all students' as given the high numbers of commuter students in some
institutions.

Pearson and Wonkhe (2020) The expectation Gap. Rethinking student experience for the Covid
era. Available at https://wonkhe.com/wp-content/wonkhe-uploads/2020/07/Pearson-Wonkhe-
student-expectations-survey-published-version.pdf

Although students have found learning during Covid-19 painful, improving online learning will have
the most direct impact on students’ future wellbeing, engagement and motivation. Four fifths of
respondents had missed out on a specific learning experience this term such as lab- or studio-based
practical work, research in archives, work placements, study abroad and group projects. Of those
who have missed out on a specific learning experience, 47% think they should receive a fee
reduction or refund to compensate. A quarter of the respondents were willing to receive the
experience later, once it is safe, and 15% indicated that they would be satisfied with an equivalent
online experience. Top concerns in times of limited face to face teaching include restricted access to
feedback and support from lecturers (with 27 per cent of respondents making it their first choice)
and access to course materials. High quality online teaching was highlighted as a key task for
universities to meet expectations for next term. The perceived low quality of learning experience has
resulted in a number of students being less prepared to progress with their studies. A fifth of the
respondents said they had, or were considering, shifting plans for the next academic year. The most
cited reason by 28% of those considering changing plans was that they did not want another
semester or year of online learning. In response to the following questions, how respondents think
online learning could be improved and what else their university could do to meet their expectations
and deliver value for money, similarities where noted in the responses. Students want more
interactive learning, with fewer pre-recorded lectures and slides, and more opportunities to ask
questions. They want more one to one support from lecturers and tutors. They want help with

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
accessing technologies and learning resources, and they want their universities to be clear in
communications both about what the corporate university is planning and what is happening on
their course.

Reference List

Hanover Research (2020). National Online Learning Survey, May 2020. Available at
https://insights.hanoverresearch.com/hubfs/National-Online-Learning-Survey.pdf

Hanover Research (2020) Fall 2020 enrolment report: Covid-19's effect on returning students.
Available at https://www.hanoverresearch.com/reports-and-briefs/fall-2020-enrollment-report/

Hanover Research (2020) Best practices in online learning for at risk Students, April 2020, Available
at https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3409306/Best-Practices-in-Online-Learning-for-At-Risk-
Students.pdf

Higher Education Policy Institute (2020). Students’ views on the impact of Coronavirus on their
higher education experience. https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/HEPI-Policy-
Note-24_Coronavirus_FINAL.pdf

Montacute, M. and Holt-White, E. (2020) COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #2: University
Access & Student Finance (May2020), The Sutton Trust. https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-
content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-and-Social-Mobility-Impact-Brief-2.pdf

National Union of Students (2020). Coronavirus and Students Survey. NUS insight. Available at
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/covid-19-and-students-survey-report

Neves, J and Hewitt, R. (2020) Student Academic Experience Survey 2020. Available at
https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Student-Academic-Experience-Survey-
2020.pdf

Pearson and Wonkhe (2020) The expectation Gap. Rethinking student experience for the Covid era.
Available at https://wonkhe.com/wp-content/wonkhe-uploads/2020/07/Pearson-Wonkhe-student-
expectations-survey-published-version.pdf

Singh, G. (2020) Supporting Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) students during the COVID -19 crisis.
(April 2020). https://shadesofnoir.org.uk/supporting-black-asian-minority-ethnic-bame-students-
during-the-covid-19-crisis/

Thomas, L. (2020) Engaging commuter students during and after the Covid-19 pandemic (June 2020).
Available at https://www.ukat.uk/media/1477/engaging-commuter-students-during-after-the-covid-
19-pandemic.pdf

UNITE and StandAlone et. al. (2020) Supporting care-experienced and estranged students in higher
education – responding to Covid-19 (April 2020). Available at
https://www.unitefoundation.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2020/04/CovidResponseGroupSurvey2020.
pdf

UNITU (2020) Supporting HE through COVID19, March 2020.Available at
https://unitu.co.uk/supporting-he-through-covid-19/

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Ruvimbo Machaka, STEER Student Researcher, August 2020
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