Online Lectures, Isolation and Tier 3: The New Norm


It’s been an interesting few weeks, I have since my last post for ProtectED moved back to the city of Salford to begin my third-year studies and it has been quite the interesting few weeks.


Moving back to the city has given me a sense of normality, this is where my life has been spent for the past two years and despite all the changes it doesn’t feel that different. Of course, clubs are still shut but the bars are continuing to serve and house the community. Shops are open and we are allowed to freely roam where we like in the city to some extent.


When I moved back, I was hoping the year would be off to a great start but then the inevitable happened, a few positive corona tests in our household. I say inevitable because when you allow thousands of university students to move from different areas of the UK to different cities and spread them all around it’s no wonder the amount of cases has risen significantly. It was an interesting experience; I had a sore head for about a week and a half, but my symptoms were not as intense as they could have been, so I feel incredibly lucky.


This situation forced myself and my housemates to isolate for around two weeks, thankfully we have the board game monopoly and a poker set, so isolation didn’t take too much of a toll on us. After isolation we are all feeling healthy, happy and free so that’s a good thing!


It’s very, I don’t want to say difficult because there are definitely much more pressing issues in the world currently but it’s quite disheartening being a student at the moment. With the constant rise of coronavirus tests being blamed so publicly on students when the majority of us are following the rules, want to see the country in a better situation and just want to be educated. In every group of people young or old, there’s a small percentage who are unfortunately painting their group in the wrong light so it’s quite difficult and frustrating seeing the constant posts, tweets, Facebook statuses pushing the blame onto students like myself.


University as we all know has changed dramatically this year, with online lectures, workshops and seminars becoming a thing. It’s definitely much more difficult to concentrate at the moment. My online class is two hours long and to be attended from home where I am surrounded by distractions, my phone is easily accessible along with the television, seeing housemates and just socialising. It’s a lot harder to be strict with myself, to sit down and concentrate on a class being provided by a laptop screen. It would be so much easier to learn and motivate myself, if I was attending university in person for these classes and if I could do little things; like grab my favourite coffee before the class, or converse with someone next to me rather than in a forced, awkward breakout room.


Then again, I can’t completely complain I do have a good level of practical class in university where I am able to socialise, leave the house and grab my favourite coffee. University isn’t incredibly different, but the subtle changes are there, one-way systems, lots of sanitising and mask wearing at all time but it’s such a small price for us to pay when there’s others struggling much more than us.


Greater Manchester has recently moved into tier 3 after a fierce battle between Andy Burnham and the British Government without an agreed deal in place we’re forced to see local business, bars and restaurants shut, some of them for the last time. Even business that would’ve been able to under the new rules, like only being able to function as a bar if a substantial meal was bought have decided to shut their doors, the financial fear of not being able to survive on selling food alone; too much for them.


For me, tier 3 doesn’t mean much, university remains open, If I wish to do so I can visit a pub and go socialise with my household, but for some people in the city it’s the end of their livelihoods and it’s just a really strange time and environment for the north of England right now. It’s quite a sad time, but in the north we’ve seen so many times and are such a strong-willed part of the UK, I know Manchester will get through it, especially with the fierce and passionate backing of Andy Burnham.


That’s it really, things are still different, everyone is adjusting to something new every week let’s hope in the run up to Christmas we see improvements, more joy and less anger.The world seems to be ever changing these days, since my last post for ProtectED in March; where I talked about adjusting to a new life in lockdown and ways of coping with being indoors for 24 hours a day, lockdown has since been lifted and life seems to have, somewhat gotten back to normal, for me anyway.

So, let’s have a catchup, after completing my second-year studies at The University of Salford during lockdown, I have officially finished second year with a grade of 2:1 one I am absolutely thrilled with but then I was left wondering, what on earth do I do with myself now?

Thankfully for me, the restaurant I work in during my holidays when I am home from university has reopen, which has been keeping me busy. It’s a strange environment with a lot of new rules to follow, but the restaurant itself is so much safer with hand sanitisers and one way systems etc. allowing both me and my team and the customers to return to a sense of normality.

Alas, the more the days of work pass, the more the return to university creeps up on me and gets closer every single day, leaving me both excited and nervous to return to my studies. I study at the University of Salford and thankfully my university have kept us updated with developments and information every week with a newsletter, one even detailing whether face to face teaching will resume which it will, something myself and fellow course mates are thrilled to hear.

I am personally feeling apprehensive and excited about returning to university in September. Everything still seems uncertain and uneasy but being able to return to education and finish my degree is something I feel quite lucky to have upcoming.

For me, a lack of face to face teaching and online classes would’ve been a major put off, I personally would’ve severely impacted my learning, I’m someone who learns by doing not by watching lectures, which has been reflected in my university grades over the past year. So, hearing the news that I will not only be able to attend university on campus, but also have access to their facilities makes me feel 10x more confident about my education.

We’ve been informed that masks and a bottle of hand sanitiser will be provided for each student at the beginning of the September term and hand sanitisers will be around campus, things that allow me to feel much more confident about returning to university, hopefully universities around the country take similar action with providing both students and teachers with valuable items like this. They’re also moving large lectures online to free up spaces for more on hand teaching and looking at seating arrangements to maintain social distancing both in the classroom and restaurants.

My biggest fear for returning to university was the different styles of teaching that could leave me feeling unprepared for graduation and job hunting, but I feel that the student’s best interests of any university are being kept a priority, alongside the safety of students and staff. It feels as if my university in particular know that both the education and the all-round student experience are just as important. Things like having access to the library and the on-campus eateries are high up on the universities list.

I think the thing that I am taking away from the last term of second year and that anyone should take away from finishing this school year is, that we did it. In a time that was so uncertain, and lives were being flipped upside down, we got through it.


I was able to submit all my assignments including practical ones during lockdown by working hard and committing to the workload provided to me. It’s been different and yes difficult but the tasks just the same, the practice we have had over the end of this year to adjust to studying and learning slightly differently to normal has students across the UK prepare for anything the next year can throw at us, here’s to the students across the UK who have worked so hard over the past 7 months and here’s to another successful school year, roll on September!

Cora can be contacted via twitter @CoraDixonMedia Linkedin profile is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cora-dixon-899935197/

Note: 'Student Blog' articles highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.

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