Due to the effects of Covid-19, Freshers at university this year will undoubtedly have a unique welcoming experience like never before. With some universities such as UCL, not returning to campus for face-to-face contact hours until the second term, students are met with the harsh reality that freshers week will be online and the reopening of clubs uncertain.
The idea of same subject flat blocks has circulated on Twitter; however, many universities are yet to confirm that this is true. Nonetheless, it has been confirmed that house parties for second and third years in student housing have been banned. The University of Nottingham came out with a statement that highlighted that students who breach the coronavirus guidelines will be subject to fines, sanctions from campus and may even have to face disciplinary hearings. First years have been told that no overnight stays will be permitted if they are staying in university accommodation. According to The Mirror, fines of up to £800 for freshers’ who participate in one night stands.
Most importantly, studies at university have been made much harder for the new freshers to grasp. The University of Cambridge has made all lectures online while tutorials in small groups will take place in person. Many universities have also followed suit. Nottingham has created a one-way system in their campus buildings, but it seems futile considering the enormous, forty-thousand-strong student population that use the institution’s facilities. Universities in London face a bigger problem. Many of the students that live at university still have to catch the tube to get to campus, meaning that social distancing is made nearly impossible. Measures made by universities, including Cambridge, to prevent the use of public transport is almost impossible to impose on London-based students. For some students at Kings’ College, London, they will need to catch the Central Line for over half an hour to get from their Angel Road accommodation bloc to the university’s Strand campus. For similar reasons UCL has stated that there will be no teaching on campus until January 2021, with teaching in person before April 2021 being unlikely.
It is not yet clear when life for students will return to a degree of normality. However, it cannot be denied that this next academic year, with the possible exception of university life during the Second World War, will be like no other.
By E Preston