11:59 AM March 24, 2022:
A quarter of university students did not receive any face-to-face teaching in the first week of March, figures have shown.
Research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has shown that between February 25 and March 7, 27pc of students surveyed said they had been given zero hours of in-person tuition in their degree programs.
This is according to the latest update of a rolling research project from the ONS, which has been routinely monitoring university students on their experiences throughout the pandemic.
The most recent responses show that while the balance has swung significantly back towards mainly face-to-face learning, still more than a quarter of students said they were not having their seminars or lectures in person.
This figure is an increase on the levels in November, the most recent prior window, when 24pc of students said they received no face-to-face tuition.
However, it is the opposite of the position from May 2021, which saw 77pc of students say they had all of their learning remotely.
At the University of East Anglia, 83pc of teaching is currently done face-to-face.
A UEA spokesman said: “UEA is continuing to provide as much in-person teaching as possible, which is blended with online learning where this is deemed beneficial to students to enhance their in-person experience.
“Our blended learning approach is also an important part of our inclusive work practices, and we have seen how blended learning has helped to make university life more inclusive and accessible for students.
“The university is continuing to take a precautionary approach to the pandemic and although restrictions have been lifted, we are still encouraging students and staff to test where they can and do not come on campus if they test positive or present symptoms of Covid-19.
“If any on-campus teaching is cancelled due to sickness, this would be rescheduled in-person wherever possible.
“Students are advised to contact their academic adviser or module organizer if they can not attend any in-person teaching due to Covid-19; having resources available online also helps reduce the impact of Covid-19 on students’ learning experience.”
Through the student’s eyes:
William Warnes: finished his degree at the University of East Anglia in summer 2021, meaning the second half of his degree was spent during the pandemic. This was his experience in his own words:
Internet issues, awkward silences and delayed graduation. Studying for a degree during a global pandemic was never going to be easy.
The shift from face-to-face teaching to online learning was rapid and, for me, occurred just after the midway point of my second year in March 2020. As a student of literature and history at the University of East Anglia, almost a year and a half of my university experience was executed via Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
From the moment I attended the first online seminar, it was difficult not to feel pity for my lecturers and seminar leaders. The momentary stuttering of video and crackling of microphones meant in-depth discussions were challenging to say the least.
The value of your degree was now reliant on how many people were using the WiFi in your house at the same time.
Lecturers would often open the floor to students, only to be met with awkward silences or disjointed answers – the microphone often only capturing every other word.
Upon entering my third year, there was a glimmer of hope things may return back to normal soon. Unfortunately not.
Working back home in Lincolnshire, I studied for a year-long dissertation without physical access to the university library.
Though some could be viewed online, many crucial texts and documents were unavailable. It took hours of scrolling through the library website and Google Scholar to find extracts needed to complete the project.
Academics and office staff told us of their increased workload as a result of the pandemic, resulting in delayed marking and email responses.
Timetable scheduling was chaotic, with many students often receiving lecture and seminar times after term had begun. You could be forgiven for feeling in total limbo at times.
Submitting my final essay in May 2021, my graduation would also be postponed until July 2022 and a return to in-person teaching would not resume until after I had left university.
As we steadily emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, the world we have now feels vastly different to the one with which we entered.
Perhaps one of the few positives to come from the shift to online learning is that many of us feel better prepared for entry into an ever-increasingly digital world.