Students’ mental health hit by Covid-19, but majority say university life has positive effect

 

  • 77% students struggled with mental health and wellbeing as a result of Covid-19, but 84% say engaging in university life has been positive for their mental health
  • Students biggest challenge this year is the lack of face-to-face teaching, practical experience or facilities
  • Traditional face-to-face university experience is key for students: 86% are keen to get onto university campus once it is safe to do so; 75% agree that living in university accommodation and being on campus is as important a part of the University experience as lectures and tutorials

 

In a survey of 2,000 students, carried out for Unite Students by Yonder Data Solutions, university students say the two biggest struggles as a result of Covid-19 have been the lack of face-to-face teaching and practical experience (79%) and their mental health and wellbeing (77%).

 

And now four in five (79%) students would like a return to face-to-face tuition after the Easter break, if lockdown restrictions are eased, according to the new research by Unite Students, the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation.

More than three quarters of students (77%) said they had struggled with their mental health and wellbeing, followed by difficulties making friends (56%) as a result of Covid-19. However, 84% students agree that engaging in university life has had a positive impact on their mental health.

 

Table: While studying what have you struggled with the most as a result of Covid-19? (Pick three)

 

 

Total

The lack of face-to-face teaching, practical experience or facilities

79%

My mental health and wellbeing

77%

Making friends

56%

My physical health

40%

Finances/ financial pressures

32%

None of these

5%

Source: Unite Students, Yonder Data Solutions 2021

Demand for returning to university remains overwhelmingly high: 86% students are keen to get onto university campus once it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, 79% of students said they wanted to receive some face-to-face teaching in the third term, if restrictions are eased.

In addition, almost two in three students (62%) are likely to return to their student accommodation for their third term if lockdown restrictions are eased, with (almost half) 47% of those say they’re very likely to do so.

Of those likely to return to or stay in student accommodation for their third term, personal and social as well as educational factors are crucial to their thinking, demonstrating that both aspects are hugely important to students in their decision making. The top priorities for students planning to return or stay on campus for their third term are: continuing with studies as best they can (68%), being with friends and peers (63%) and the potential for in person teaching (43%).

This is reflected in the fact that 75% agree that living in university accommodation and being on campus is as important a part of the University experience as lectures and tutorials, and 77% say they like the greater independence that come from living away from home - confirming the importance of the whole university experience for students.

 

Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, commented on the findings:

“Once again, we are seeing the huge value placed on the university experience by students and its ability to improve lives, even with the restrictions in place over the last year. This is highly encouraging for the Higher Education sector.

“Although Covid has undoubtedly disrupted students’ lives, with a particular impact on face-to-face teaching and student mental health, it’s welcome to see the boost that engaging in university life has provided.

“The demand for returning to campus and university life remains overwhelmingly high and, as we begin the slow march back to a more normal way of life, we look forward to continuing to support students during their time at university. The wellbeing of students has been our priority throughout the pandemic and will remain so.”

 

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Unite Press Office                                                                 

Tel: +44 117 450 6300

 

Powerscourt

Victoria Heslop/ Courtney Sandford                                               

Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

 

About Unite Students

Unite Students is the UK's largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation, serving the country's world-leading Higher Education sector. We provide homes to 76,000 students across 180 properties in 27 leading University towns and cities. We currently partner with over 60 Universities across the UK.

Our people are driven by a common purpose: to provide a 'Home for Success' for the students who live with us. Unite Students’ accommodation is safe and secure, high quality and affordable. Students live predominantly in ensuite study bedrooms, with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed Wi-Fi. We also hold a five-star British Safety Council audit rating.

Founded in 1991 in Bristol, Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 250 Index.

For more information, visit:

 

Data tables

 

Thinking about the third academic term coming up, and if lockdown restrictions are eased, how likely or unlikely are you to stay in or return to your student accommodation?

 

Total

NET: Likely

62%

Very likely        

47%

Somewhat likely    

15%

Neither likely nor unlikely

6%

Somewhat unlikely  

4%

Very unlikely      

15%

NET: Unlikely

19%

Don't know/ not sure

12%

 

What are your priorities for the third term? (All respondents who are likely to stay in or return to their student accommodation)

 

Total

 

Continuing with my studies as best I can

68%

Being with friends and peers

63%

Potential for in person teaching

43%

A better environment for my wellbeing and mental health

42%

Having access to campus facilities, for example, libraries, labs or equipment

41%

Having independence/ living away from home

32%

Access to better WiFi at my student accommodation/ on campus

10%

None of these

1%

 

While studying what have you struggled with the most as a result of Covid-19? (Pick three)

 

Total

 

 

The lack of face to face teaching, practical experience or facilities

79%

My mental health and wellbeing

77%

Making friends

56%

My physical health

40%

Finances/ financial pressures

32%

None of these

5%

 

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about studying at university and thinking about the easing of lockdown?

 

I am keen to get on to university campus once it is safe to do so

I want to receive some face to face teaching in my third term

Engaging in University life is positive for my mental health

Despite the challenges this year brought on by COVID-19, I am happy with life at university

Living in university accommodation and being on campus is as important a part of the University experience as lectures and tutorials

I like the greater independence that comes from living away from home

NET: Agree

86%

79%

84%

49%

75%

77%

Strongly agree     

59%

54%

42%

9%

44%

48%

Somewhat agree    

26%

24%

42%

40%

30%

29%

Neither agree nor disagree

9%

14%

11%

18%

14%

19%

Somewhat disagree 

4%

5%

4%

24%

7%

3%

Strongly disagree  

2%

3%

1%

10%

5%

1%

NET: Disagree

6%

7%

5%

34%

11%

4%