What to Expect at University

by Anita Naik

University 2020 looks to be a very different place to usual. However, 87% of universities are still planning to hold lectures, social activities and a freshers week so here's what you need to know.

What will daily life be like at university?

A number of universities like Edinburgh, Warwick, Bristol, Manchester, and UCL have revealed that 'online delivery will form a key element of this year's academic provision.

Blended learning will become the norm due to the social distancing rules and number of students. This means larger-scale lectures, or lessons that previously involved 30+ students will now be virtual. However, small group seminars and tutor groups that are face-to-face will be allowed

The amount of in-person teaching will vary by subject, as degrees in medicine or science, with laboratory-based work, will need more face-to-face time so check with your university to see what the provision is for you.

In terms of day to day life, student unions, halls of residence and on-campus buildings will all have to adhere to social distancing and masks in communal areas. Libraries look likely to have a ticketing system to manage numbers and will work in a one-way system.

Alongside this expect safety measures such as deep cleaning, sanitiser stations and voluntary temperature checks all over campus.

Will there be restrictions if I live in student accommodation?

On the whole, universities will have fewer students in a flat and group where possible. And where once you may have only seen your flatmates at mealtimes, many universities are encouraging students to stick to their bubbles where possible.

This means outside visitors and overnight visitors to your "bubble" will be discouraged, and all social gatherings and parties will not be permitted in halls.

Students will also have to wear a mask in corridors of halls and communal areas such as the gym but not in kitchens and living areas. You will, however, be allowed to travel home whenever you want and move between different households.

What about the social element of student life?

As a result of COVID, the social experience will be more limited, but it will still be there. In terms of socialising, the rules are the same as elsewhere, and you'll be expected to follow the government's guidelines on mask-wearing and social distancing.

While large gatherings and parties are off-limits, universities are planning freshers' week with virtual DJ sets and virtual events like fitness and yoga classes.

In-person events are likely to be outdoors and ideas being touted include outdoor food festivals and open-air cinema shows. You will find a full list of freshers events on your university website.

What kind of student support can I expect?

All the usual support for new students will be there both in terms of tutors for academic help and mental health support staff. Again check your university website for information on what's available on campus.

Student Minds, the UK's student mental health charity has also set up Student Space, to help support students through the COVID restrictions. They have a phone helpline 0808 189 5260 that is open from 4 pm to 11 pm offering information and support.

The Student Space text line will be available 24/7. All the advice is free and confidential. They will also help all students with the challenges of being the COVID cohort and the uncertainty that brings with it.

For more help and advice see our blogs on Blended Learning, 5 Ways to Study for a Maths Degree, and Catching Up in the new academic year.