Supporting Student Experience During the Pandemic and Beyond
This article reports the findings from a small-scale, qualitative and phenomenological institutional research project, undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic, on the experiences of undergraduate students from groups who are traditionally under-represented in higher education in the United Kingdom. Documenting the first two phases of a longitudinal study carried out at one university in England, the over-arching research question investigated here using semi-structured interviews was: How has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacted student experiences and learning at university? Key themes identified included worry, a sense of loss, feelings of connection and support, a sense of a new geography of campus life and students' need to feel "in the loop". Evidence of changes with longer-term implications were also found, namely, an evolution in the relationship between students and their institution. A series of suggestions are presented based on the findings aimed at mitigating some of the ongoing negative effects of the pandemic on students.