University back to normal... but what does ‘normal’ look like?

Torbay Weekly

As we are all beginning to relish in the easing of lockdown restrictions, universities in England have also reopened their campuses.

This means that all university students can resume face-to-face teaching for the first time since December.

In previous articles, I have already established this idea of students being very much the invisible population among Covid aid and this comes to light once again.

Many students have now completed their course which makes this reopening seem quite futile since schools and colleges have resumed face-to-face teaching since early March.

Yes, campuses would be a hotspot for transmitting this virus but in reality, many students have resided at their university address before May 17.

Being able to have social cocktails in a pub garden before attending pre-paid lectures as well as being the last group in education to return has prompted anger among students.

Businesses have been the forefront of concern while university students have been back seated.

Encouraging customers has been a key method in harbouring the economy but students are customers and university is very much a business.

The customer always comes first, and higher education is an intentional profit generator.

Yet, students are paying for a service that has not been executed as promised from the point of purchase.

Nor, after numerous leniencies for many other business sectors, has there been compassions for students.

GCSE and A-level exams have been scrapped but university workload has not wavered.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month so it only seems fitting to address the impact this is having on the invisible population.

In an era of political activism, a petition is circling social media to include ‘mental health support’ in university league tables.

With a third of Russel Group universities continuing ‘blended learning’ into the next academic year, a serious reform of the overstretched and rather selective mental health support in these institutions is needed.

Alongside ‘quality of teaching’ and ‘graduate prospects’, it only seems natural for mental health support to be included.

It would also be an incentive to improve university facilities.

Mental health issues will only increase in students among the fallout of the pandemic.

One in five students are even considering gap years until university is back to normal... but what does ‘normal’ look like?

The ‘normal’ mental health support system was failing. ‘Normal’ has to evolve.

We are called the ‘snowball generation’, being too soft and too delicate on these matters.

Some may even complain these mental health campaigns are consuming.

In other words, they are working and making an impact.