Vast majority of students eager to return to campus

A survey for Unite Students found 89% of respondents keen to head back, provided their university had implemented the requisite safety measures

The vast majority of students are eager to return to campus, once it is safe to do so, according to research published today (June 9) by higher education accommodation giant, Unite Students.

Eighty-nine per cent of the 500 students surveyed by Opinium said they were keen to head back as soon as possible, with 79% claiming that living away from home is as important a part of their university experience as studying.

It isn’t only the social side of university life that students are missing. Although 94% of those surveyed last month are currently required to undertake remote learning, only 14% say it is their preferred method of study.

While 91% of students fear Covid-19’s impact on their studies, more than three-quarters (76%) are also worried about its effect on their future employment opportunities. Almost two-thirds (65%) are concerned about the toll the pandemic may take on their mental health.

As a sector, we must continue implementing the right measures to protect students and staff – Nick Hillman, Higher Education Policy Institute

“The students in the survey display a mature concern about the impact of the crisis on their social lives, their future careers and their mental health, as well as on their academic studies,” said Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute.

“I well understand why students are so keen to get back to campus. It is vital that institutions, support services and accommodation providers work jointly together to ensure the next academic year is as rewarding as possible for all concerned.”


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As much as students are looking forward to resuming their studies in situ, the research makes clear that this willingness to return is predicated on certain assurances.

Ninety-seven per cent require a robust accommodation cleaning regime to be in place, with 95% also demanding increased provision of hand sanitiser.

The great majority – 86% – trust that their university will take the necessary steps to protect them.

“Safety and security was our focus before the pandemic and will continue to be the focus moving forward,” said Unite Students’ chief executive, Richard Smith.

“In response to the pandemic we have reviewed our ways of operating across our entire business, investigating and implementing new [methods]. This focus will support the students that choose to live with us, enabling them to enjoy and get the most out of their university experience.”

“The high levels of trust in how universities are responding to the crisis is impressive,” added Hillman.

“As a sector, we must continue implementing the right measures to protect students and staff, so that this goodwill is not squandered.

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