In the spring of 2021, SAMOK and the student unions of Universities of Applied Sciences jointly conducted a survey of students about their experiences during the one-year pandemic period. 7341 students from 19 Universities of Applied Sciences responded to the survey. The response rate was 5.8%. The survey was conducted in Finnish, Swedish and English.
We compiled the results of the survey for this article. You can read the full report from this link. We apologize, the report is published only in Finnish.
Most respondents felt that their well-being had deteriorated
The majority, 61.8% of respondents felt that their motivation had decreased during the pandemic.
Nearly as many respondents, 60.1%, experienced coping and mental deterioration during the pandemic. 61.1% experienced more loneliness than before.
Welfare challenges are particularly common among respondents who live alone or with a roommate. 71.2% of those living alone or with a roommate felt that their endurance and mental health had deteriorated.
The challenges of well-being are also emphasized to some extent by those who started their studies before the pandemic. Of those who started in 2019 or earlier, 65.9% felt that endurance and mental health had declined, 69.2% felt that motivation had decreased, and 64.2% experienced more loneliness than before.
A year in isolation has broken many
Based on open answers, for many students, a year in exceptional circumstances has been too long. Loneliness has had effects on mental resilience and mental health. Many responses report that the long period of pandemic and the consequent isolation has caused fear of social situations. Even for those who have previously applied for social situations.
Many describe how mental endurance has deteriorated as the pandemic has lengthened and getting out of bed in the mornings is difficult. Exhaustion, as well as physical fatigue, are common.
Stress has increased further during the protracted situation. Those who have already suffered from mental health problems in the past, pandemic time and distance learning have ruptured symptoms again. Fortunately, the answers also show that many have sought help for their mental health problems or other symptoms, for example from the FSHS.
There is an emphasis on family-centricity in communication, but my everyday ‘family’ is just myself.Student
Many said they experienced loneliness because they were extrovert and accustomed to social life. On the other hand, many self-classifiers had also suffered for the first time in their lives from loneliness and/or mental health problems, such as panic disorder.
The responses also reiterated frustration with society, as it was felt that single young students were not taken into account in the situation, but were completely forgotten.
Some students are doing well or even better than before
However, some are better off, with 14.1% of respondents experiencing resilience and 17.7% strengthening their motivation during a pandemic. Respondents said they were able to concentrate better at home than in a noisy school environment and benefited from recorded lectures.
The time saved for some trips has made everyday life easier and distance learning has made it easier to combine work and study. Some people who feel alone feel that exceptional circumstances are the so-called allowed to be alone. That has made it easier to study.
Need for help
30.7% of respondents feel that they need help with coping or motivation. Many long for more mundane encounters with fellow students and teachers instead of the professional help provided by health care. Support is needed in a few responses specifically for motivation, concentration, study, and outlining the professional future. Teachers need understanding and flexibility, as well as time to discuss.
The need for quick and easy access to help is emphasized in the case of mental symptoms. Many have not sought help or are unable to seek help because they do not believe they will receive it or because they are afraid of just having to wait several months. Many were also satisfied with the help they received (UAS, FSHS, other health care)
I don’t need any psychological analysis of the situation, but just the normal interest of teachers in the progress and motivation of their studies.Student
Studies in exceptional circumstances
36.8% of respondents feel that the pandemic period is slowing down their studies. The slowdown in studies is also reflected in the responses of those who report that their internship has been postponed or cancelled. The reason for the cancellation and transfer of internships is the difficult availability of internships, companies do not currently take interns in the same way as before, the respondents say.
Nearly half of the respondents, 49.9%, feel that studies include too many independent tasks in relation to teaching, while 46.8% feel that they are appropriate. Respondents report that the number of assignments has increased during a pandemic and lectures have been replaced by assignments. Respondents say that they do not get enough information or support to complete the tasks, but have to solve things independently instead of learning in a lecture.
The skills of students and teachers are mainly good
Respondents are mainly satisfied with their independent study skills. 65.9% of the respondents consider their study skills to be good or fairly good for distance learning. 20.3% consider their capacity to be quite inadequate or insufficient. Respondents state that they have applied for practical studies in bachelor’s studies and that what is happening now does not meet expectations when the studies are mainly independent online studies.
Teachers ‘competence is also mainly satisfied. 54.9% consider teachers’ distance learning skills to be good or quite good. In open-ended responses from students who perceive skills to be inadequate or fairly inadequate, there is a repetition of the experience that some teachers have poorer skills than others but for the most part, the teaching staff is competent. Respondents report that for some teachers, teaching is monotonous and teaching methods are tedious. Some respondents feel that there is no problem with teachers’ skills but that teachers need more support for distance learning.
Some of the students have difficulties in income
26% of the respondents say that their financial situation has decreased, 65% say that it has remained unchanged and 8.5% say that their financial situation has improved. The financial situation of many students has declined due to job loss. Students have been laid off, left without a shift as a gig and some have not even dared to do gig work because they belong to a risk group.
Many have also missed summer jobs, which means that they have had to save for the summer with savings or loans. Distance learning has slowed down some studies, in which case the performance requirements for study support have not been met. Those who have been laid off have been in a really difficult situation when it has been difficult to get income support with full-time student status.
A hopeless situation. You should be able to focus on studying, but now a lot of time and energy goes into looking for a source of income somewhereStudent
The most common reasons for the increase in income have been employment or an increase in shifts. In addition to distance learning, doing work is easier when studying has not been tied to place or time. Travel time has also saved the campus time that could have been spent working. There have been a lot of jobs available during the corona, especially for students in the social sciences.