When the pandemic first hit back in March 2020, we saw the immediate impact it had on higher education. Campuses closed, students went home and lectures took place online, yet little consideration went into the long-term impact of the pandemic on higher education settings.
Almost a year on, the long-term effects of the pandemic are beginning to emerge. According to findings compiled by Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) from a survey of over 20,000 pupils, it was found that 23% of applicants wished to study at local institutions from September 2021.
Traditionally, students have favoured institutions further away from home to allow them to grow their independence, improve their cooking ability and perfect the fundamental art of separating their washing.
On the increased number of students opting to remain at home, Sarah Barr Miller, head of insight at UCAS said: “Young people in our focus groups have said they don’t want to be far from their support networks. That’s been thrown into sharp relief by pictures in the media of students struggling in halls.”
Tamzin, a 16 year-old student at Brockenhurst College, Hampshire is one of those opting to apply to universities closer to home. Tamzin said: “I want to stay at home, so I’m applying for Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth… but if I need to, I guess I can go away. I don’t like the thought of sharing a house with random people I don’t know, and with Covid, if one of my flat mates got it, I would have to stay in for 2 weeks and miss lectures, whereas if I lived at home that wouldn’t happen.”
For lower ranking universities who tend to rely on local applicants to keep their institutions alive, the shift isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ray Powell, an admissions tutor at the University of Greenwich in south London, said: “increasingly, because of accommodation costs and all the rest of it, a good, local university is an attractive option.”
For the foreseeable future, there’ll be an emphasis on distance learning, with Kortext available to provide students and educators with the texts essential to continue with through the academic year, however, the full picture will soon become clearer once the main application deadline passes.
Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive, said: “We’re ready to support all students with their next steps, providing the information they need to make an informed decision, whether that be an undergraduate application, an apprenticeship, or researching alternative options.”
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-by Amber Lovell