Nearly a third of students express strong preference not to be taught online in new survey.
14 February 2022
Nearly six in 10 university students would prefer not to have fully online lectures, a new study has revealed.
In polling of more than 2,000 students and recent graduates carried out by the UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission, 58% overall said they would prefer not to have fully online teaching, with nearly a third – 32% – saying they would “strongly prefer” not to only be taught online.
The findings, published in a report on Monday, showed that the majority of students – 90% – said they would “strongly prefer” or “somewhat prefer” to have in-person lectures that were also recorded, and just over a third – 34% – said they wanted seminars to be face-to-face only.
Only 33% of students said they were slightly or very satisfied with the support their university had given them to help find a job or work experience over the past year.
The poll findings also revealed the toll the pandemic has taken on student mental health.
The survey, carried out in October last year, found that 73% said the pandemic had had a negative impact on the interpersonal skills they needed in daily life, while 57% said it had been detrimental to the knowledge they needed to succeed on their course.
Over half of students – 52% – said they were somewhat or very below where they had expected to be in their studies as a result of the pandemic.
The Commission, chaired by Mary Curnock Cook – former chief executive of Ucas, says that students should have more support before they reach university and that there should be an induction into university life for each year of study.
In polling, 57% of students said induction periods should be extended for new students and 67% said students in other year groups would benefit from similar inductions.
Other recommendations include more support for mental health, providing clear outlines of teaching students will receive and pathways into graduate jobs, and more extracurricular activities for students.
The report found that participation in activities seemed to have “fallen substantially” based on student accounts, and that this could partly be caused by poor mental health and “digital fatigue”.
“This loss of connections, social learning and student development opportunities will dent students’ confidence and preparedness for life after university,” the report said.
The report calls on universities to develop a Student Futures Manifesto alongside their students by the end of the 2022/23 academic year.
Ms Curnock Cook said the manifesto, “co-created and co-owned by students and their university, will be a powerful expression of intent about what students need to support successful lives and careers.”
“We acknowledge the tragedy and disruption of the pandemic but our proposals are resolutely optimistic and build on the extraordinary resilience and creativity demonstrated by colleagues and students across the sector during the crisis.”
Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group of elite universities, said that universities work “hard to support students in all kinds of ways throughout their studies”.
“A high-quality education is just one part of a successful university experience and our universities work hard to support students in all kinds of ways throughout their studies – from helping them settle in from day one to providing careers guidance – so they have a positive experience and can succeed in whatever path they choose,” he said.
He added that the impact of this could be seen in the high continuation rates and progression into skilled careers for Russell Group students.
“Every part of society has felt the effects of the pandemic, including students, and universities are responding to that challenge, finding new ways to support them so we welcome this work by the Student Futures Commission and will consider its findings carefully,” he said.