Graduating during COVID-19

According to the Resolution Foundation (RF), a think tank, youth unemployment in Britain will reach the 1 million mark over the coming year unless the government provides job guarantees for school leavers and graduates to stay on in education. There is no doubt that this global pandemic will cause long-term damage to the careers and pay prospects for people under the age of 25, and even more so for those entering the job market this year.

We decided to talk to one university student, who is due to finish her undergraduate course in July, to find out how she is feeling for what lies ahead.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you go to university and what do you study?

My name is Fatima and I study human nutrition at a university in the Surrey area.

What have the past few months been like? How have your studies and wider university life been affected?

It’s been quite crazy; I went from attending lectures with classmates to revising alone at home. Slowly, the library had become empty and the trains too. Then, students stopped coming to class and I decided to stay home a week or two before the university announced they were closing due to the virus. I feel like I have missed out enjoying the final few weeks of university with my friends and classmates as well as with my lecturers.

What has happened to your final exams and how do you feel about that? Have you missed out?

My final exams have been moved online and they were moved a week forward. Although this gives me more time to revise, it means that the results may be announced later.

Although I think university fees should be reduced (as £9,250 is too much), I think they should definitely reduce my fees this year because I have not had access to the library or careers centre, and these are services I use all the time normally.

Is your graduation ceremony cancelled? How do you feel about that?

My graduation ceremony has been postponed, but I haven’t been told when it will take place. To be honest, it is quite disheartening as it was a moment I was looking forward to – a sort of last party with friends and lecturers.

How do you feel about your time at university overall? Was it good value for money?

University has been great; it has really opened my eyes and mind. I have met people I would have not normally have met and learnt so many interesting things related to nutrition. However, I wish there was more support in the job market area as my subject can be niche and difficult to get a foot in.

Finally, how do you feel about the future? Are you worried about the job market?

The job market for graduates is quite hard already and I feel the coronavirus situation has intensified it by 10 times. I am quite nervous for the future, but I am grateful for being healthy and safe

Can you offer any advice to students in a similar position?

I think, as horrible as this pandemic is, it will pass. I would encourage students to stay positive, talk to friends and family and try to relax as much as possible – it’s vital that we look after our mental and physical health.