For various locations around the country, freshers week was supposed to be enjoyed by university students over the next few weeks but thanks to the global pandemic, that isn’t happening. Instead first years (who, for the first time have moved away from home) being able to go out, enjoy themselves, make a tonne of friends, memories and mistakes have had that taken away from them because of an illness which has dominated our conversations for the majority of 2020.
Locking students away in their student accommodation (can be absolutely tiny spaces) to live, work and socialise is a huge injustice. Moving away from home for university is a whirlwind of an adventure, you experience so many emotions in a short space of time but the way you keep going is by being able to go out and meet new people.
So, it's horrific to know accommodations in high risk COVID lockdown areas encourage students to arrive at their chosen university city to just get thousands of pounds of rent out of them, to just essentially lock students up. Thousands of pounds which could have been saved if the government, universities and accommodation sites were just honest with students. If a different demographic was being treated like this, there would be a bigger uproar than there currently is.
Granted, universities have done as much as possible to ensure students can get the face to face teaching they are paying for but with rules, regulations and guidance from the Government and devolved Governments changing frequently, universities should have prepared for the first semester to be completed online - with a reduction in tuition.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has been incredibly quiet, the union which is supposed to raise the voices of what students are most concerned about and have barely said or done anything. When looking on their website, they have two things on their main homepage about COVID and the impact on students. The first is Student life in the time of COVID and the second is under Latest News titled The Impact of COVID-19 on student renters. The problem with this ‘latest news’ is its old, it was published in May. So much has happened since then, so why aren’t the union in charge of representing students more on the ball with student issues? Perhaps it’s time for a national students union. Additionally, why are the NUS not putting pressure on accommodations in affected locations to actually allow students to collect their food deliveries? It is beyond absurd.
To finish this piece, for students who have been so badly affected, I would really encourage you to contact your local MP, in both your home constituency and university city (it does not matter which party they’re a member of), contact them and get them to raise questions and concerns with the government.
You can find your MP here