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26th March 2020

Third years have been cheated out of our final year of university

Olivia Stringer discusses the impact of Coronavirus on final year university students
Third years have been cheated out of our final year of university
Photo: Dr. Fred Murphy @ Wikimedia Commons

For many final year university students it seems our last year at university has been tragically cut short. Upon hearing the news last week that the Coronavirus pandemic had led to the library closing its doors for the foreseeable future, and with face to face teaching having already been terminated, I and many other students hastily packed our bags and caught the next train home. Feeling optimistic, I packed a small bag containing just a few items of clothing and essentials, with the hopes that I would be able to return to Manchester within a matter of weeks. However, with more and more restrictions being enforced each day, this is seeming increasingly unlikely.

There are many friends that I am now unsure whether I will get to see again and with whom I did not get the chance to say goodbye.

Jade, a third-year maths student from Durham university, said: “Everything happened really quickly with uni closing and then being advised to go home. I feel lots of uncertainty now about online exams and whether I’ll be back to uni for third term.”

Unlike GCSE and A level students, whose exams have been cancelled, university students are expected to march on and continue their studies from home, despite the lack of teaching and access to key learning facilities.

Although bars, pubs, restaurants, gyms and basically everywhere enjoyable being closed does free up a lot of time to study, that time is instead mostly being spent binge watching Netflix in order to forget about the impending apocalypse. And who can blame us? With all of the chaos that’s going on in the world at the moment, it’s hard enough to get out of bed in the morning, never mind write a dissertation.

With the library and all other learning facilities closed, it will be near impossible for me to write a dissertation that I can be proud of and that is a true reflection of my three years at university.

At the time of writing, it is unclear whether our end of year graduation will even take place, and this has, understandably, led to a mass sense of loss of purpose amongst students.

Final year American studies student Nicole, told me: “It’s a really disorientating time to be graduating – I didn’t know what I was doing next anyway, but now I don’t even know when I’ll be able to start a job, or whether one will be available.”

This situation is nobody’s fault of course and I am thankful that I am safe and well and for the fact that I have a family with whom the thought of being stuck in quarantine for an indefinite amount of time does not fill me with complete despair. However, that does not take away from the fact that for final year students, one of the most formative years of our lives has been taken away from us.

What with UCU strikes and the Coronavirus outbreak, for many of us, our final semester at university has consisted of only three weeks of teaching and I feel a great sense of loss at the fact that I will likely never have a lecture at the university ever again. I feel cheated of my third year of university and we should be entitled to some compensation for this loss, whether that be a refund of tuition fees or the opportunity to redo our final year of study.

I say that when all this is over, we wind back the clocks and try to give 2020 another shot.

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