students in the UK
University students in the UK wonder how a pandemic degree might affect their future employment. Source: Leon Neal/AFP

A new survey by online library Perlego shows that students in the UK are increasingly concerned about the quality of pandemic teaching. Surveying 1,549 students in the UK — 26% of which were international students — revealed particular concerns on how these conditions would impact their grades and employment prospects.

Two findings in particular point to concerns over the quality of remote teaching and learning. The growing pressure over online assessments has driven one in 10 students to cheat in their exams. On top of that, 39% claim that they are not getting the same level of support from university staff as they did before the pandemic.

At the same time, two-thirds (67%) of third-year students in the UK believe that their university provided all the technology that they needed to complete their studies.

Remote learning struggles often centre on ease of access. For example, third-year social studies student Hannah John found it hard to find the right resources to complete her dissertation. “The uni tried to move online, but I was forced to search elsewhere for remote resources. Studying social studies, I needed books on a range of topics, so just searching online aimlessly took up so much time and made learning a lot harder,” she expressed.

students in the UK

Though many are excited to return to campus in September, many international students may still be learning from home due to travel complications. Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

Students in the UK unsure about job prospects

Further to that, a third of the 1,549 students in the UK surveyed are considering doing an additional year of university to make up for lost learning over the past year of the pandemic. This would effectively delay their entry into the job market for another year. The survey also found that 25% of students believe they need to upskill themselves beyond university to boost job prospects.

“I’m really excited to return back to uni but after scraping together books to finish my essays and revise, I’m nervous to see what the impact will be long term,” said Harry Martin, second-year student at the University of Leeds. “Hopefully the next few months will help me catch up, but I know me and my friends are worried about our grades and what this means for jobs further down the line.”

Commenting on the findings, Perlego CEO Gauthier Van Malderen acknowledged that the last year has challenged university students and staff in unexpected ways. “The move to online-only education has highlighted just how unprepared we were for remote learning,” he opined. “With libraries closed and limited face time with tutors, students struggled to access the resources they need and now face concerns about how this will impact their grades and job prospects.”

“Despite a solid vaccine roll-out, university life has changed for the foreseeable future, meaning it’s imperative universities take the learnings from the last year and implement them to ensure the future of a new cohort of learners come September,” he advised.