COVID-19 UK student survey 2021 – Results

The results of the COVID-19 UK student survey have been analysed and summarised by each of the participating universities. In this article, we will take a look at the results of the second University of Liverpool student survey.

Results from the COVID-19 survey will be presented on 21st July 2019 at the International Conference on Digital Education (ICDE 2019) in Vienna, Austria. The COVID-19 survey is a research project conducted by the UK’s COVAD Education Group on behalf of the UK’s Higher Education Academy (HEA) in cooperation with the UK’s Department for Education. The aim of the survey is to engage students, parents, and researchers in a conversation about the future of higher education and how it can best serve students and society.

The main aim of this blog is to take the survey of students at a University in the United Kingdom. The survey is meant to understand the students view on learning capabilities, and their views on the ‘best way’ to teach. The survey is not just a means to an end, but is a tool that can be used to improve teaching. Please take the survey as it will be anonymous and will only take 10-15 minutes of your time.. Read more about covid-19 student survey questions and let us know what you think.By looking back at a school year that did not take place, our new study shows the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students. This is what we found…

Appropriations : Kate Kultsevich – Shutterstock

This school year was marked by social distancing measures from beginning to end. Many students have problems with their ability to learn, communicate, earn a living, etc.

Following on from two previous surveys on the impact of the pandemic on students, conducted in May 2020 and November 2020, this survey provides insight into the 2020/21 academic year.

By interviewing around 1,300 students from across the UK, we were able to find out more about how students are coping with the challenges of the pandemic during their studies. Read on for our full findings.

Key findings from the COVID 19 survey of students in the UK 2021

Before going into the results of the study in more detail, an overview of the main statistical data is given below:

  • More than seven in ten students reported that their mental health had deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.
  • 80% of students had to seek help for problems related to COVID-19 – but of those, more than half reported that it was difficult or very difficult to get help.
  • Just under 20% of students received a hardship grant this year, with an average amount of £611.
  • About two in five students plan to be full-time students by September 2021.
  • Only 4% of those surveyed received a (full or partial) refund of tuition fees.
  • Around three quarters of students are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the employment prospects of graduates.

Student problems related to coronavirus

For the vast majority of students who responded to the survey, the pandemic has had a direct negative impact on them this academic year – particularly on their studies (73%) and their mental health (71%).

Regarding the impact of the pandemic on student mental health, we have seen a steady increase in the percentage of students reporting this problem in each of our COVID-19 surveys.

In May 2020, 60% said their mental health was affected, compared to 66% in November 2020. Now, at the end of the school year, the percentage of affected students has risen again, to 71%.

It is very disturbing to hear from so many students whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic. All students who are having problems should absolutely talk to someone if they need to, and take the time to take care of themselves.

How easy is it for students to get help?

This academic year, four out of five students who responded to the survey (80%) have had to seek help due to coronavirus issues. This figure is higher than 61% in our last COVID 19 survey.

Of those who sought help, 53% (yes, more than half) reported that it was difficult or very difficult to get help. In fact, only 3% found it very easy.

The number of students who naturally needed help was so large this year that universities had to provide assistance to those who needed it. Unfortunately, all too often this turns out not to be the case.

What students say about the impact of COVID-19 on university life

  • Student life in COVID-19 was extremely lonely and isolating. I feel like I haven’t had a chance to meet anyone yet. I feel like I’m just looking at the four walls of my small room, and that’s definitely affecting my mental health.
  • Since working at COVID, I have lost my job and have had to apply to the university’s emergency fund three times.
  • I wish tuition had been lower this year because we had everything online and that was really a big deal. If I took classes on campus, I would probably get better grades.
  • My independent parent couldn’t work, so the family’s financial situation deteriorated a bit, there was no sports training, the university courses were all online, it was hard to communicate.
  • My mental health has suffered because I’ve had to spend a lot of time on my own […] I’ve had a lot of qualifying exams which have been very difficult and I’ve had no income, so I’ve had to use a hardship fund, but it will get better.

How do students compensate for income loss?

About a quarter of survey participants expect to lose revenue as a result of the pandemic. How do students compensate for the lack of money?

Compared to the previous two COVID-19 surveys, there was a notable increase in the number of students who reported that they had used or would use the university’s credit cards and emergency resources in the event of an emergency. Here’s what we found out about students’ use of each of these funding sources:

Use of credit cards by students

Looking first at the number of students who used credit cards to offset income loss due to the pandemic, the percentage who reported having done so increased slightly in each of our three coronavirus surveys.

In May 2020, 9% reported using credit cards, that number rose to 13% in November 2020, and then rose again to 15% in this survey.

Although credit cards can be used safely, they carry risks, especially when used during times of financial difficulty. When a credit card is used by someone who is tight on money, there is a much greater risk of defaulting on credit card payments and accruing high interest, which only makes it harder to eliminate the debt.

It is disturbing that many students see credit cards as a way to cope with the financial crisis. In addition to the 15% who use credit cards, 28% say they will use them in case of an emergency.

For less risky funding, students can contact their university to see if they can get financial aid in case of difficulties.

How much money do students receive as an inconvenience allowance?

It should be noted that there has been an increase in the number of students who indicated that they have used or will use University resources in times of need. The percentage of students who reported using this funding increased from 7% in our two previous COVID-19 surveys to 18% in this survey.

The number of people who indicated they would use the emergency fund also increased, with 40% doing so in May 2020, before unexpectedly dropping to 35% in November 2020, only to rise to 43% this time around.

On the one hand, this may indicate an increased need for funding for students in difficult situations, but on the other hand, it may also indicate a growing awareness of the existence of these funds for those who need them.

For example, students may have become aware of these funds after the government repeatedly announced that it was giving universities an extra £85 million to support funds that provide assistance to those in need.

Of the 18% of students who reported in the survey that they had used scholarship funds, the average amount received by each was £611.

How many students applied for large student loans in 2020/21?

If a student’s family income decreases by a certain percentage, he or she may apply to the Student Loan Company (SLC) for an adjustment in the amount of his or her student loan. This is called an estimate of current income.

The amount by which a student’s income must be reduced to qualify varies from part of the UK to part of the UK. You can read about their breakdown in our guide to maintenance loans.

In preparation for this study, we submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Student Loans Company (SLC). We asked how the number of students applying for an income assessment had changed in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20.

We were then told that 23 119 people applied for this assessment in 2019/20 and then 33 697 in 2020/21, a 46% increase on the previous year.

It should be noted that there may be over 33,697 students in the UK who have experienced a significant drop in their household income this academic year, but who have not requested an estimate of their current income.

A number of students may not be aware of the possibility of requesting a recalculation of their loan, while others may know about it but not ask for it for a number of reasons.

When looking at the numbers, it is also important to remember that the pandemic may not be the only reason to request an income assessment this school year.

However, this significant increase in applicants over last year indicates that job losses, the introduction of paid leave, and additional decreases in household income due to the pandemic have had a significant impact on the number of applicants for large student loans for the 2020/2011 academic year.

We also received testimony from a student who was hoping to receive a larger living expenses loan, but unfortunately did not qualify due to a recent income assessment:

My parents] were struggling financially – their income had fallen by 14%, but because it wasn’t 15%, Student Finance didn’t renegotiate my loan.

They also gave me an amount for child support that was much lower than the amount estimated on their calculator, told me that the amount given was not a guarantee, and [in fact] told me to settle for a non-living wage.

Where did students live during the semester?

Just over half of the students who responded to the survey stayed in the same accommodation this year (42%) or moved but then returned to their usual accommodation for the semester (11%).

However, about a quarter returned to their parental home and continued to live there, and 10% moved to a private home.

What students say about their housing

  • I lived alone in my dorm at the university most of the time, because the university had a limited number of apartments and my roommates stayed home most of the time. It was very lonely.
  • Because of the transition to e-learning, I had to go home. Although I was able to save on rent and stay with my family, my mental health was seriously affected by the lack of support from the university and the feeling of isolation.
  • I had to rent a house near the university to go to lectures and seminars ([I] paid £200 a week). After all, everything was online and I never stayed at the house, so I paid almost nothing.
  • I paid in advance for the accommodation, which was cancelled.

Full-time higher education

When the government announced that all university students aged 17 and over would be allowed to return to full-time study in May 2021, we heard arguments that this was too little and too late for many. It was towards the end of the school year, when many were already approaching exam time.

We asked students if they had a full-time class this semester…..

Approximately two-thirds of respondents indicated that they were taking full-time courses this semester.

But how many students are planning to return to full-time study in September 2021?

Although 66% have a full-time job for the 2020/21 summer season, surprisingly only 38% expect a full-time job in September, and 33% are unsure.

How have universities responded to the coronavirus?

As noted above, the majority of students responding to the survey (71%) indicated that COVID-19 had a negative impact on their mental health.

This figure becomes even more disturbing when you consider that two in five students became disenchanted with their university’s mental health support services during the pandemic.

Although 28% indicated that they were disappointed with the way their university communicated with students during the pandemic, it is worth noting that the majority felt that communication was satisfactory (44%) or good (28%).

The following is a breakdown of the number of students who responded to the survey who felt their university responded well to COVID-19 in terms of transitioning to online learning, communicating with students, grades and exams, financial aid, and mental health support:

How many students received a refund of tuition fees?

There has been a lot of talk lately about how good value for money students are this year.

However, it is interesting to note that only one in five students who responded to the survey indicated that he or she had requested a refund of tuition fees this academic year, with 5% requesting a full refund and 15% a partial refund.

When we look at the number of students who received their tuition refunds, the numbers are much lower – 1% reported a full refund and 3% a partial refund.

Impact of COVID-19 on graduates’ employment prospects

Almost three quarters (74%) of students who responded to the survey expressed concern about the employment prospects of graduates.

Interestingly, this figure is slightly lower than in our November 2020 survey, where 79% responded similarly. However, both figures are higher than the 70% expected in May 2020.

This may reflect the fact that in May 2020 it was not yet clear how long the pandemic would last and how it would affect the economy.

Now that the government has given an end date for the shutdown measures (extended from 21 June to 19 July 2021), there may be a little more hope among students for graduate job prospects than there was in November 2020.

About this survey

Our conclusions are completely independent. We do not conduct our surveys to sell products to students or to attract universities and advertisers.

Since 2013 we have been conducting surveys of students at UK universities to find out their honest opinions about university, with a particular focus on tuition fees. We analyse the figures to see how things are going and to improve the advice given on our website.

If you would like to know more about the study, need case studies, comments or quotes, we would be happy to help – contact us here.

The money cheat sheet for students

Download the book The Student Money Takeaway for free. This printable PDF summarizes the best tips from our website in two pages, including a one-minute budget form. It is designed to be accessible, fun and engaging.

We created this tool in response to the results of recent student surveys.(I)S a survey, in particular a national survey or a survey of a particular population or sample. You may also like. Read more about covid student experience survey and let us know what you think.


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