Students feel like an 'afterthought' after university return date

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"I feel like this is a complete afterthought," says university student Salman Fazal.

He - and many other uni students - are frustrated by the government's announcement that students on all courses in England won't be returning earlier than 17 May.

About a million students, who've been taught online since Christmas, will be able to go back to university campuses from that date.

For many students, teaching will have finished by then.

"I've been very angry about the whole situation because, for me, students have been hit the hardest," the 20-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"Schools have been open for a while, shops are open but we're still not meant to be back at uni."

Since the start of the year, only students on practical courses have been allowed in-person teaching.

'Cautious approach'

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, in a written statement, said the May date was a "cautious approach to the easing of restrictions" and "the movement of students across the country poses a risk for the transmission of the virus".

It coincides with the next phase of lockdown restrictions easing, with pubs due to open indoors along with cinemas and theatres.

For third-year student Aisha Dosanjh, it's "frustrating timing".

"It seems very strange the government has announced we can return when there's not going to be any teaching anyway," the 21-year-old University of Kent student says.

"There's nothing to return to except for events that the university may or may not hold."

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

'It's really hard to stay motivated'

It's not been an easy year by any stretch for Salman, who is in his third year at the University of Leicester.

"This year for me hasn't been great, it's really hard to stay motivated. I feel like a lot of my friends have said the same."

Online learning has been difficult.

"It really isn't the same as seminars. Nobody wants to put their cameras on and I feel bad for the lecturers as well to be honest."

image copyrightSalman Fazal
image captionSalman says it's been hard to connect with classes as normal

"They're doing what they can but it's hard to have an intimate education and you can't really connect like normal."

Seminars feel like "a waste of time" because there's not the usual flow of conversation.

"It's not the university's fault some people don't have the best internet connection, or lecturers and students cut giving answers," he says.

'Not worth the money'

Aisha says students like herself have "paid thousands of pounds" for a service they didn't receive.

"If I had booked a holiday that couldn't go ahead because of Covid, I likely would have received a refund."

"And it would be morally right for me to receive that as well."

image copyrightAisha Dosanjh
image captionAisha feels students have not been supported this year

Salman doesn't feel he's had the best quality of education and experience either.

"It's not been worth the money at all. For me, the university experience has been completely robbed from us."

"I hope the government do something like refunding half the year or maybe helping out with accommodation payments," he adds.

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