Updated: Mar 3, 2021
My first few months living away from my hometown Bramhall have been confusing, pointless, and infuriating. Life as a university student in 2020 is exasperating. I feel young, bright, and cheated as I am grappling with the question of whether spending £9250 on four hour zoom calls each week, is really worth the expense? Is it heck!
Finishing The Kings School in Macclesfield in March early this year, I spent six months glamorising the idea of university and studying my undergraduate course in English Literature. Distressingly Zoom calls were buffering, and my friends were failing to enrol onto modules for the next semester. In the first couple of weeks we were left in the dark, as the technology just didn’t work. Irritatingly we couldn’t access our timetables for the semester, as the University claimed they were having difficulties with technology. This not only left us clueless, but we also had no idea when or where anything would take place. We were trying to survive for ourselves as unguarded freshers.
The University was negligent as they failed to produce an organised plan for students coming to campus. Our academia was in shambles. Consequently, my studies have not only been a sacrifice to the coronavirus but also to the careless handling by the University. I became more familiar with the threatening security men patrolling the Fallowfield campus, than with any information on my course. Certainly not the information I needed to get to grips with the English course.
Morale was running low throughout the campus. Advice or information for our concerns and mental wellbeing were non-existent. Coronavirus cases were rising across Manchester, as students are being widely targeted for spreading the virus. Being in a foreign place away from my hometown, it’s human nature to make friendships with other students within University. Pressure increased for students, as the government released additional rules preventing us from making these friendships. Leaving us in a difficult situation, as we knew morally it was wrong to socialise, we then ran the risk of being a victim to extortionate fines of £10,000 and fear of being expelled by the university, but we are already spending £30,000, on education, it’s a scandal!
Students were denied the enjoyment of the notorious freshers' week. Instead, we were confined to our 3.5m x 1.5m room. I received more emails from ResLife about the University’s threatening rules, rather than support for our mental wellbeing. Feeling isolated and neglected by the University for their lack of support, we received no sympathy for this unsettling situation. Not only the 'A-level algorithm fiasco' that caused distress among our age group, we now have to contend with the imposing coronavirus restrictions.
The University encouraged us to stay in our bedrooms and flats. I learned more about my brick wall opposite my bed, in contrast to the undergraduate students who lived outside my flat. So I decided to move back home to my hometown Bramhall within the first two weeks. My experience so far had been debilitating. We should have been given a heads up from the government in August about the measures university students across the country will fall victim to in Autumn.
Herding us all back into university was inevitably going to spread the coronavirus. Had anybody thought about coronavirus testing on-site amongst students before the government robbed us of all our money and locked us all away?
Within a couple of weeks, after I departed from campus, I woke up to my friends telling me on social media, how the university had erected large metal fences around the campus. It’s a disgrace: that the university could commit such immoral behaviour! The ‘prison-like’ fences made many students feel imprisoned. The University put up these daunting fences with no explanation. My friends awoke to discover these immense fences, which they found extremely claustrophobic as they felt 'penned in like sheep'. Inevitably this will have an effect on many students' wellbeing, further increasing their anxieties as many are far from home.
I chose the University of Manchester, as it has an outstanding reputation both for pastoral care and academia. However, my experience so far proves that I have been robbed of large tuition fees with a lack of understanding from the government and the university. It's been over two months and I’m still awaiting my promised refund for my large deposit on the student accommodation. Students are being scammed left, right, and centre on numerous large fees. Leaving our hopes and dreams of experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity far from being the life we imagined it would be.
The government has used students as 'scapegoats' knowing full well that sending them back to universities would spike the rise in coronavirus cases. Their insensitive actions placed students across the country in vulnerable and costly positions. Hopefully, my prospects of getting a graduate job in journalism will not be at a sacrifice of the coronavirus. As has my experience of this year's A-level results and my first semester at University has been so far.