Scottish university students share post-lockdown fears and reveal what higher education was like during lockdown

Scottish university students have spoken out about the challenges they have faced completing the final leg of the academic year in lockdown.

Students finishing coursework and completing dissertations have had to do so in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, with graduates now facing an uncertain future post-pandemic.

Lewis MacMillan, 23, has just finished his final year studying Business Management at University of Glasgow. Before lockdown was announced, he moved back to his home on the Isle of Lewis to self-isolate with his family.

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Although doing remote learning from a remote location, Lewis praises the university’s handling of the crisis by introducing a No Detriment Policy which means classifications will not be affected by the pandemic.

Scottish university students have spoken out about the challenges they have faced completing the final leg of the academic year in lockdown. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Lewis said: “I was back home which wasn’t ideal to get my work done but so long as I passed this year, my GPA wouldn’t be affected by any grades I got beyond 15th March. I feel like a combination of the extension and the No Detriment Policy outweighed any negative consequences of doing my dissertation during this time.”

However, Lewis is optimistic about his career prospects post-lockdown as he feels less restricted with the jobs he can apply to, with many interviews now done online.

Lewis said: “There are definitely fewer job opportunities so I’ve been applying but not expecting quick replies. But I have had interviews via Zoom and have been able to apply to further away places knowing I won’t have to leave the island and travel 200 miles or down south for a first stage interview.

"I can now consider more places than I would have done before.

“I’ll just take a picture with my postman when my degree comes through the door!”

Caitlyn Dewar, 26, has just completed her MSC Strategic Communication and PR at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

She has been working full-time while writing her dissertation in lockdown, which she submitted at the start of May.

Caitlyn said: “When it comes to deadlines, I like to get out my house and go to a campus spot to work but obviously I was unable to do that.

“With my mum, dad and sister in the house, it was like being a teenager again. It was a lot. It was the noise that got to me more than anything – people out cutting grass every day, redecorating and children outside on the street.

“Your bedroom or spare room turns into your prime working space so you feel you never switch off.”

With face-to-face teaching suspended, Caitlyn could only meet with her dissertation supervisor virtually. She feels the quality of her work has suffered as a result.

Caitlyn said: “I did catch up on video call with my supervisor but I didn’t feel like I got the same amount of support as I would’ve face-to-face. Carrying out a research interview on video is hard because you can’t gauge body language.

“If I’d have been able to get on campus and dedicate the time, I’d have probably produced something better than I did and gained more from it personally.

“Mentally you get burn out a lot easier in this situation. There’s no escape, I feel like I never stop working. For months I was writing my dissertation while working from home and it was mentally draining.”

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