A survey of 2,000 UK university students suggests as many as seven in 10 considered dropping out during this academic year, with the majority citing the loss of in-person teaching as the primary reason.
The survey, commissioned by Studiosity and conducted by RedBrick Research, was carried out during January 2021 – and comes as the government confirms universities can restart face-to-face teaching for all students from 17 May.
Eight in 10 (81%) said Covid-19 impeded their university experience – and 66% said higher education had not been as good as they expected. Despite these poor figures, two-thirds say they would be likely to choose the same university again, compared to 16% who said they would choose a different provider if given the chance.
Less face-to-face contact with academics was the most common reason given by those who said they had considered dropping out (85%), followed by spending less time on campus (80%) and struggling to make friends (68%). Over half (54%) reported feeling stressed at least once a day.
Female students were more likely to report stress than male students. Three in 10 female respondents (29%) described their overall wellbeing as ‘poor’, compared to 17% of males.
Sir Eric Thomas, Studiosity academic advisory board member and former vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: “Constant lockdowns coupled with remote lectures and virtual seminar groups are not what students originally signed up for, so it comes as no surprise that this is a group that have felt the effects of the pandemic very acutely.”
Sir Eric said universities should seek to expand out-of-hours academic and pastoral support for students.