Surviving student lockdown

Student life can be difficult as is. But with so much uncertainty surrounding people’s current studies (not to mention when and how students are going to return to university), we wanted to lend a hand. So, with some help from Edward from UniHome, we’ve put together a little guide to surviving student lockdown.

Illustration shows a young person sitting on a huge pile of books reading

Disclaimer from The Mix: This article was written in May 2020 during the height of the pandemic. We know that our understanding of COVID and the laws surrounding it have changed. But hopefully the advice that Edward gave will still be useful.

Hi! Edward here, a journalism graduate and writer from Sheffield. Right now I’m working for UniHomes as their resident ‘student’ perspective’. Essentially, I write about everything from the challenges of living away from home to tips and any kind of advice I can give on surviving uni!

There’s so much fake news, which information can I trust?

Unfortunately, it’s not just in the student community; fake news about COVID is everywhere. So it’s really really important that you know where to get the most reliable info to avoid spreading the fake news even further.

I’d probably say that is the most accurate and up to date source. Keep in mind that it gets updated regularly so the info will likely change as the prime minister makes new announcements and the pandemic develops. But one of the major benefits is that you can also get all the info on how returning and new students will be impacted by the changes. In case you want to check it out, just click here. 

I should mention that there’s not really a strict set of rules that unis have to follow right now. This means that every uni is taking their own approach to teaching, exams and assessments. To add to the unhelpfulness, there’s been no definitive answer given by the government on marks or exams. Hopefully all of this should be clarified by the time students and staff (probably in face coverings) are returning to in person teaching. In the meantime, it’s vital you stay in the loop about what’s happening in your specific uni in terms of exams, dissertations and the future (scary, we know).

I’m missing the structure of university and struggling to cope

School’s been temporarily scrapped, and so has the basic structure of university life. Those three or four years are meant to be when you finally get your own freedom, space and independence. But unfortunately, many have been forced to go back home for an extended period of time. And this may cause *slight* regression e.g. yelling at your mum for some ‘privacy’ every time she enters your childhood bedroom without knocking.

But when you’re looking for your own freedom and space, take comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same boat. We’ll be able to hug our loved ones, enjoy going back to university and returning to campus eventually (message from the future: it DOES indeed get better).

If you’re going through it at the moment, try reading The Mix’s article on how to cope with corona anxiety.

How to stay focussed at home during student lockdown

If you’re not someone who usually studies in a home environment, and even if you are, this pandemic is a real kick in the face to studying. Specifically understanding how to regulate your time and make the most of all these strange online lectures and zoom classes. To help out, here are some basic tips on how to survive learning and exams while on student lockdown. Keep in mind that this isn’t a graduate employment and skills guide so we’re gonna be focusing on the basics.

Create a study schedule

Honestly, a schedule will be your best friend during a prolonged period of studying from home. The main advice with this one is to try and stick to the same amount of time you’d spend studying at uni, and mimic lecture and seminar hours.

Engage your learning

I get that it’s tempting but don’t just passively have zoom in the background while you’re doodling. Remember, uni isn’t a part time gig. Instead, make sure to sit in a comfortable place, listen or watch your lecture and have a notebook handy. Basically, just treat it as you would for any normal learning time.

Stay in touch with your tutor and classmates

Firstly, if you feel like you’re struggling with any of the content, speak to your tutor. Just because they’re now on your laptop screen doesn’t mean they can’t help. Otherwise, staying in touch with your classmates or even forming zoom study groups can really make a difference. That way you can discuss ideas, analyse texts and maintain the collaborative aspect of university.

We know that this may be difficult for international students who had to travel back home (especially for those from red-list countries) with the time-difference and lack of proximity. If you’re in that situation this advice is even more relevant for you. Make the most out of technology and do your best to feel connected in whatever way possible.

What are my rights as a student?

I’m gonna have to make blanket statements here since each individual circumstance is different, but student rights are very similar to everyone else’s. This means that students still have to pay their bills, rent and insurance just the same as any other adult (yes, in case you forgot, you’re an adult). If you’re struggling to get through this because of coronavirus, make sure you regularly check the government’s website for updates on their emergency legislation.

Don’t panic, you’ll still receive your maintenance loan and you can still apply for the next academic years’ worth of finance. And if you’re worried about repaying your student loan because of the virus, you’ll only be required to pay your money back when you’re earning over the set threshold. For more info on paying back student loans click here.

What If I’ve already paid my rent but I’ve moved out?

Unfortunately, students in higher education still come into the category of private renters. So whether or not you’re living in your term time accommodation, you’ll still have to pay rent. Look at it this way, if you’d decided to move home early instead of going back to university accommodation after the academic year finished, you would’ve still been expected to pay your rent – right?.

If you have any questions about your tenancy and wanna try and negotiate a release from your contract, get in touch with your landlord. You never know, you may be able to come to some sort of agreement that benefits both of you. For all the official info you can look here. Alternatively, try reading The Mix’s article on understanding your tenancy rights.

Otherwise, stay safe and do lfd tests (Lateral Flow Tests) to prevent the spread of the virus!

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Citizens Advice offer free help with housing, money and legal problems. Find your local centre.
  • Student Minds is the UK's student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research, and to see how you could get involved.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 08-May-2022