Whether you’re going to university for the first time, or returning for another year, there is no doubt that the 2020/21 academic year will be unique. It begins as the UK tentatively comes out of the other side of a pandemic that has caused sadness, upheaval and led to a new way of living and working for many people. Here are some of the differences that might affect student life next year.
As we’ve seen already this summer, with the city of Leicester being the first example, local authorities now have the power to introduce their own lockdown measures based on the latest Covid stats from their city or borough. As a result, the government says it is unlikely we will see another countrywide lockdown across the UK. That leaves open the possibility that the city in which you study next year could be subject to special measures. While you will be given notice if this is the case, it would still be wise to have a plan in place should it happen. Think about what you will need to prepare and what you will need to do differently, and keep up-to-date with information from your university and local authorities, so that you’re prepared.
If you were at university last year when the pandemic broke out, you may have been affected by the early curtailment of in-person teaching. Some universities switched to using video and remote learning resources to fill the gap, while others suspended courses. Given where we are in the timeline of the pandemic, there aren’t many universities planning for a 100% full return to in-person, on-campus teaching in the first term. Lots are, however, committed to delivering a hybrid model of teaching, making full use of video and online resources, but also building in some valuable facetime for students with lecturers and peers. The likes of Dundee and Salford have published updates stating their intentions around the return to teaching. What it ultimately means, at least in the first part of the year, is that you’ll spend more time working from home, using video conferencing tools and online resources, than you normally would – all the more reason to book the best student accommodation available, so you can do it in comfort.
For many, the first few weeks of university are all about the social life: long nights spent making new best friends in various bars and clubs soaking up all that your new home city has to offer. But this year, Freshers’ Week looks set to be a bit different – at least in terms of nightlife. While most universities have spent the summer working out how they can welcome new students to daytime Freshers’ Fairs in a safe, socially distanced way – again, a mixture of video and face-to-face events will be employed to keep down the traditionally large numbers of people attending these events – the ongoing question marks surrounding bars and clubs means they may play less of a role in the first fortnight than they ever have before (especially clubs, which the government still hasn’t allowed to reopen, citing social distancing concerns).
Part of the process of making friends and meeting new people at university is exploring the various different societies and clubs you can join. Universities across the country have committed to keeping their clubs running, with many facilitating online introductions for new members, as well as socially distanced in-person events. Likewise, student unions everywhere have spent the summer planning ways that people can safely be made to feel welcome, in what for some is a nerve wracking and slightly lonely time of year. Sports have been hit a bit harder. With gyms and other facilities flagged as potential transmission hotspots, many universities are being cautious around their return, and following very closely the government guideline. If you’re keen to join a specific sports team, check with them to see if they are currently training, and expect some time off the pitch – especially if a local lockdown is introduced.
Lots of unknowns may lie ahead, but your student accommodation needn’t be one of them. Book now and take the worry off your mind. With our range of flexible tenancy options you can book with confidence, knowing there are ways Mears can support you if needed.