Since March of last year, students' lives – just like everyone's lives – have changed considerably, with most things online for a long period, except in instances when on-campus classes have been possible. In order to gain insight into how students have experienced these changes, the University of Twente conducted a well-being survey during the summer break. The research was carried out in July 2020 among both staff and students. The survey was consciously conducted during the summer break in order to measure the effects of online education from the beginning of the intelligent lockdown in March 2020 through to the end of the academic year 2019/2020.
The results of the staff well-being survey are published earlier and can be found here. The results of the student survey are in line with previous studies at the University of Twente and other universities in the Netherlands and abroad. The findings correspond with the research results of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) for the entire population of the Netherlands. The full report has been attached to this message.
UT students indicated that they experienced an increase in physical health problems, particularly fatigue, problems sleeping, headaches and back problems. However, among Dutch students, positive feelings seem to dominate. A different pattern emerges among international students, where negative feelings dominate more frequently. International students also worry more than Dutch students about all kinds of things, from academic performance to housing, from funding to religious practice.
In general, the study reveals that students are experiencing changes to their lifestyle and social interactions. For example, for the period in which the study took place, students spent less time drinking and playing sports, and more time sleeping, taking walks and meditating. The majority of respondents said they were less satisfied with their lifestyle than in the period before Covid-19.
Regarding online education, students indicated that they were satisfied with what was offered and the information they were given. At the same time, these are the two primary target areas for further improvement. Students also asked that more attention be given to them as individuals, and more understanding for their personal situations.
Based on the results, the researchers made recommendations that are primarily aimed at paying attention to students' educational needs. This includes work pressure, information about Covid-19 and the availability of as many study places as possible on campus. An important recommendation concerns recognizing the concerns of (prospective) international students about their finances, housing and health and the importance of the relevant information provision and services. Furthermore, it is important to have sufficient student counseling capacity available to organize additional Covid-related activities and implement guidelines.
Student well-being at the current time
In recent months, first-year Bachelor’s students had most of their course work on campus. Many courses have also deployed extra mentors for this target group. Since early December, study advisors and mentors discuss the study progress with students, which gives a good impression of how these students are doing. Student counselors and other student support staff are obviously also available for upper-year and Master's students.
This is a difficult time for everyone, but most UT students are getting through this period with positive feelings. They keep their sights set on the future and make plans to do a minor abroad, a Master's degree at the University of Twente or elsewhere, or start a career after finishing their Master's, as soon as it all becomes possible again.
Nonetheless, the expectation is that right now students are having to deal with increasing mental and social problems, including experiencing feelings of loneliness. That is also the picture that emerges from the national study of students.
Contact: Bertyl Lankhaar, Spokesperson for the Executive Board, mobile no.: 0620027435