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Students give UHI top marks for pandemic response

UHI National Student Survey
Students gave positive feedback on the university's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured is UHI student Kirsty Turkington at Perth College UHI. Supplied by UHI

Most Highlands and Islands students have rated their university’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic highly, according to a national survey.

The research asked students across the UK to rate their university on course delivery, safety measures, mental and emotional support and access to information during the pandemic.

In three of the categories relating to Covid-19, more than 80% of UHI students who responded gave the university positive feedback, above the national average in each.

Although UHI attendees were among the most positive, students across the UK reported that their college or university could have done more to meet their mental health needs during the pandemic.

Positive marks for Covid response

Every year, the National Student Survey collects feedback from final year undergraduates across the UK. Typically, the survey asks general questions about student experience – quality of courses, teaching, assessments – but this year the survey added questions about how universities and colleges responded to the pandemic’s challenges.

The past year hasn’t been easy.”

Flo Jansen, students’ association president

UHI students who responded to the national student survey gave positive feedback on the university’s handling of many aspects of the pandemic.

In categories related to the pandemic, UHI outperformed the UK average:

  • 88% of UHI respondents agreed they were able to access the resources they needed for their course during the pandemic, compared to 78% across the UK
  • 88% of UHI respondents agreed the university had taken steps to protect their physical safety, compared to 80% across the UK
  • 84% of UHI respondents said they had received useful information about changes to their course, compared to 73% across the UK

Still room for improvement

Results from the student survey showed that many of the students who responded felt their school could have done more to address their mental health needs during the pandemic.

Across the UK, the survey showed that there was room for improvement in how schools met their students’ mental health needs during the pandemic.

Approximately 60% of UHI respondents to the national student survey said the university sufficiently met their mental health needs during the pandemic. That’s 21 points higher than the Scottish average (38%) and 18 points higher than the UK average (41%).

UHI staff ‘rose to the challenge’

Dr Iain Morrison, the university’s dean of students, said that results show the effectiveness of the university’s model, which connects students and staff across various campuses in the Highlands and Islands.

“Our staff admirably rose to the challenge of delivering top-quality learning and teaching, communicating changes and investing in laptops and additional mental health and wellbeing resources to support the needs of our students.

“Our priority has been to provide a safe learning, research and working environment for all staff and students while also protecting our local communities.”

Results reflect strong relationships

Flo Jansen, president of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, said: “It’s reassuring to hear that the majority of our students have felt prioritised over the past year and encouraging to know that our strong working relationship with the university has enabled us to support our students through the pandemic, while maintaining our standards of learning and teaching.

UHI National Student Survey
Flo Jansen, president of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association. Supplied by UHI

“The past year hasn’t been easy, but the bonds between our staff and students have undoubtedly benefited our approach and have helped us to identify challenges sooner rather than later. We could not be prouder of what they have achieved.”

Each university’s full results of the National Student Survey are available online.

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