New poll reveals 8 out of 10 students rate university ‘learning experience’ as most important

New research commissioned by the University of Leicester has revealed how post-COVID, ‘learning experience’ matters most to students (82%), followed by ‘gaining independence’ (78%), green open spaces (78%), and mental health and wellbeing (64%).

Emerging from lockdown, two-thirds of students (62%) were keen to attend large scale events again, whilst over half (58%) valued support available to help them transition school or college into university – something the University of Leicester has excelled at through HeadStart, which provides students with the relevant resources, guidance and support they need throughout the summer, right up to the time they take their very first class.

The poll, run by Education Cubed and The Student Room, also revealed how student demand for a university education remains stronger than ever, as 9 out of 10 (96%) Year 13s said they would ‘definitely’ (83%) or ‘probably’ go to university this September.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, said: “The impact of COVID is visible in this survey, from the need for green spaces to feeling independent yet safe – we are very fortunate to benefit from a campus neighbouring picturesque Victoria Park, and we are one of the first universities to be offering a major student COVID vaccination programme. 

“Students are clear that they expect universities to deliver the best possible learning experience for them, provide COVID-safe environments and help them achieve that sense of independence that so many missed out on during the pandemic, whilst providing access to quality mental health support and provision.

“We have listened to our students and their needs. Our extended Welcome Festival will give students that important opportunity to socialise, enjoy large scale events and make friends for life – this year we have a greater focus on bringing students together to make friends and connections, which we know was challenging online during the pandemic.

“Our commitment to our students means ensuring that University is their home away from home; where they can access the care and support they need, whilst feeling independent and able to enjoy some the best years of their lives.”

To ensure students can have the best learning experience, the University of Leicester is preparing for in person teaching on campus from September 2021. By retaining the option of ignite, its blended learning and teaching approach, the University can seamlessly adapt to future changing regulations set out by Government, so there is minimal disruption for students.

Acknowledging students’ views from the research to attend large scale events and maximise opportunities to make friends, for the first time Leicester will run an extended Welcome Week Festival for new students and returners, as part of a drive to bring students together. Commencing a full week earlier than the usual Fresher’s Week, the Welcome Festival will provide plenty of opportunities to make friends and socialise at large live music events, such as the huge Fresh Festival hosted at the onsite O2 academy, live band performances at Centenary Square on campus, as well as The Big Pub party offering delicious food and drinks on campus, meet-up pods, movie nights, scavenger hunts, and afternoon teas.

78% of students surveyed also stressed the importance of having access to green spaces. Located on the border of the vast and picturesque Victoria Park, the University of Leicester benefits from an abundance of green spaces, and its student village is nestled in the green, leafy suburb of Oadby.

Student mental health was another key factor raised by students, with two-thirds (64%) citing mental health and wellbeing as a concern at university. Leicester has prioritised mental health provision by providing an extended team of trained counsellors on site, and the MyWellbeing app is designed to help students thrive in your university life by empowering them to make positive healthy changes. In addition, the University is partnering with the NHS to offer the togetherall service, an online service offering 24/7 support to those in need.

Having COVID safe facilities and ensuring students feel as safe as possible came out as another top priority in the survey. The University of Leicester will return to face-to-face learning in lectures, seminars and labs to provide students with an authentic in-person university experience, however some COVID-19 safety measures will remain, such as the use of masks in crowded spaces, regular cleaning, sanitisation points across campus and availability of lateral flow tests. 

In addition, the University has recently announced a major COVID-19 vaccination programme, which will be delivered through a partnership with neighbouring Victoria Park Healthcare Centre. Whilst COVID-19 vaccinations remain entirely voluntary for students, the University has recommended their use.
In a small sample study run by the University earlier this month, nine out of ten (93%) undergraduate students were willing to get vaccinated, with 64% already having had one dose by 23rd June 2021.

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