On October 31, PM Boris Johnson announced a second national Covid-19 lockdown for the UK – Roar asked King’s students for their thoughts and reactions.
Despite governmental permission to keep educational institutes open, King’s and other major universities have switched and adapted their teaching to a fully online system in an effort to help flatten the curve faster. This choice is scientifically founded and rational – yet another term of remote schooling has inevitably led to economic and emotional concerns for students.
Almost all of the 63 people who answered our 10-question survey were second-year students, with the majority coming from the UK and 30% from the EU or overseas.
Almost all of the students polled had returned to London in September, hoping that things would not get as bad as in March and pretty confident that some sort of academic normalcy would be resumed and maintained thereafter.
More than 90% have chosen to remain in London even though there are no classes to attend and no places to go.
Maybe some of them are just so charmed with Waterloo sunsets and strolls by the Serpentine that they chose to live for the poetry intrinsic to lockdown and not leave the only city with a City of its own. Most of them, however, probably stayed in London for two more pragmatic reasons. Firstly, they did not want to constitute a potential threat to the older family members they would have gone back to live with, had they had left the big city households they share with young flatmates. Secondly, they already were and still are paying rent, and everybody knows that rental prices in London are not exactly cheap.
No matter how rational these choices may seem, other factors have motivated a small portion to return home. One anonymous student told Roar they had “no reason to stay in London” with classes moved online, while another told us their country was not yet in lockdown, and they’d “rather be at home than stuck in King’s Residences”. Others echoed this reasoning, with a third student telling Roar: “I haven’t [left London] yet but might still go home, as I am now furloughed and will have an opportunity to see my family without having to take time off work. Also, in my country, the situation is much better and I would feel safer.”
The physical threat of Covid isn’t the only reason some students returning home, either. Another anonymous student told Roar they chose to leave London to “recuperate mentally” – an understandable sentiment, given the topsy-turvy nature of the UK’s Covid restrictions since March.
In the charts below, you can see students’ evaluations of how they feel the pandemic has affected them in different domains of their life.
It is observable that students saw their studies being negatively affected by the new restrictions, but are fairly happy with the way King’s has been dealing with these unforeseen circumstances.
More worrying are the sections on economic and emotional concerns. A substantial number of students feel the pandemic and the resultant lockdown are directly affecting their economic situation. In a pre-Covid world, it would not be as troublesome to see young people unsure about how to manage to get by financially; there would always be a way to “figure something out”. In the static dynamicity of 2020, though, this is a figure to be noted: if privileged students in London are worried about the nature of their current and future incomes, what must young people who have less ready access to education, or who live in rural areas with fewer job opportunities, be thinking?
To end on a slightly brighter note, almost 40% of the students who took the survey do not feel emotionally torn by the second surge of the pandemic and the new lockdown. Only two people feel fully energised in light of the situation but, on the whole, the King’s community seems to be fine. That said, being “fine” may be a new high bar to life in the wake of more imminent financial concerns – or an emotional defence mechanism.
Overall, it turns out that being at the start of your 20s when the 2020s have just begun is not an easy time to be young; but young people may get through it better than anyone would expect of them.