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University students look to Master’s degrees as pandemic disrupts student life

By Jessica Bayley

Universities across England have seen a rise in the number of people applying to post-graduate courses this year, as the pandemic continues to disrupt students’ university experience and learning.

This comes as many students continue to feel that they are missing out on the social side of higher education and not achieving a thorough ‘uni-experience’ as many parts of the UK remain within lockdown restrictions.

For the majority of students across the country, face-to-face teaching at their institutions has been suspended since the beginning of the pandemic last March, leading many of them to look further into post-graduate courses.

As interruptions to learning continue, some students feel less prepared and more hesitant to step straight into their desired career and consequently are reluctant to leave University and their student status behind them.

Iona Kay, an Undergraduate student, who is currently studying Psychology at Leeds Trinity University, said that a large part of the appeal of a Masters degree is the ability to narrow down your learning as well as focus on and refine those skills which are more job specific.

She added: “I think Covid has made it definite that I do want to do one (a Masters degree), to prolong the student experience.”

Students across the country remain feeling abandoned and unable to make the most out of the ‘best years of their life’ and many of them, like Iona, are seeing the appeal of furthering their studies more and more.

With students’ time at their institutions drawing to a close, University admission departments have seen a rise in the number students applying for degrees following on from their undergraduate degrees.

“We’ve seen a positive momentum in postgraduate applications for 2021/22, with an increase of 92.2% compared to this time in the recruitment cycle last year.”

Leeds trinity university

It is clear from this almost two-fold increase that a significantly higher number of students are feeling more inclined to apply to postgraduate degrees, compared to last year and prior to the pandemic.

While this shows an explicit increase in the interest in degrees of this kind, not all students share this same desire to extend the student experience.

Rebecca Kedge, an Undergraduate student, who is studying Primary Education at Leeds Trinity University presently, does not intend to do a postgraduate degree as she does not see the same value of it as some of her peers.

She said: “I don’t think it would really benefit me in the future and I’d prefer just to get into the workplace.”

Rebecca is not alone in these sentiments as many students have expressed their want ‘to get stuck in’ and plans to attain a job as soon as they can.

However, Rebecca added: “I’ve thought more about doing a masters degree since the pandemic to prolong my student experience.”

It seems the overwhelming sentiments coming from students, is the loss of the social aspect of their promised student experience.

The Office for National Statistics has conducted research into impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had upon students in higher education in England.

This Student Covid Insights Survey (SCIS) found that: “Over half (53%) of students reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their social experience in the autumn term.”

Student dissatisfaction, both with the social and learning elements of University, may have had a substantial contribution on this spike in the volume of students applying to post graduate degree programmes.

What do you think?