Over 60% of Durham’s International Student Community Unsatisfied With University’s Support Amid Pandemic

62.5 per cent of students at Durham University said they had not felt fully supported by the latter during the pandemic, a survey by Palatinate, Durham University’s student newspaper, has revealed.

Only 17.5 per cent of students agreed to have received the university’s full support, whereas 20 per cent chose to remain neutral, Erudera College News reports.

“There had been close to zero support for international students studying remotely,” a student told Palatinate, adding that students also had to face university’s poor communication as the remote learning took place.

When asked about their mental health, more than 80 per cent of international students admitted that they had experienced increased loneliness amid the pandemic, while over 90 per cent highlighted that they had experienced more stress.

A student who works in a five-hour time difference said she had noticed that her mental health had been affected ever since the pandemic emerged, especially by being away in a different time zone.

“I think it is isolating for [international students] because there’s just functionally less time to talk to [students in Durham], and you feel the distance even if you’re connected online,” she explained.

In addition, she added that the disconnection had caused concerns among students about the future of their studies as well, while the stress and the feeling of loneliness have negatively impacted their focus and motivation.

80 per cent of survey participants said they have been experiencing anxiety and worries about their academic achievements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet, 55 per cent of international students said they did not seek any mental health support during the crisis. On the contrary, one-quarter of the surveyed individuals said they sought help. Whereas, the remaining part of the survey’s respondents said they have already or are considering to reach out.

Students also mentioned a differentiation between students staying in the United Kingdom and those studying abroad, claiming that students remaining in the UK can access the lecturer’s full working day as well as receive resources via email for free.

“As an international student, you’re paying more, but you can’t access a lot of those resources, which are often brought up as the justification for having high tuition fees,” a student said.

Only 2.5 per cent of students believe that their spending for tuition fees was worth the experience they had amid the pandemic, 47.5 per said they did not regret the choice, while 45 per cent of students reported they had mixed feelings about it.

University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and Student Experience, Jeremy Cook, said that the wellbeing and safety of the university’s students, staff, and the wider community remain the main priority.

“Students have access to a range of pastoral support through their colleges and central services such as our counseling team, meanwhile Professional Support Services remain accessible toall international students online and are responding to the need to provide support across different time zones,” he said, adding that the university communicated with all students to keep them updated about opportunities and the support available.

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