One of the questions of the day is how students are going to navigate the “New Normal” as its being termed – learning to live in not so much a post COVID world, as one that is presently closed in with regulations and threats of constant lockdowns. This question is not really aimed at if students want to go to uni or not, of course, they do and with a world financial meltdown on the way, the best thing for young people to do is to spend the next few years getting educated so that when the world returns to its next incarnation of a real normal, they will be well placed to function, contribute, and most importantly, thrive. The question really is how to enjoy it more and have more freedom, when all we seem to see if our freedom being retracted.
One way is to keep as much control as possible, and I personally see that as NOT living in student halls, or high-rise purpose build student accommodation and taking advantage of the fact that there is a massive and fluid student accommodation market in the private sector. The most obvious reason for this is the threat of social lockdowns. This will happen when someone in a social bubble has COVID-19 or perhaps even just the symptoms, or even, now that track and trace is on the run (slow clap), maybe just potentially come into contact with someone that may have it, you can be locked down.
The chances of this are minimized if you have an effective small bubble in a student house, with perhaps three to six housemates. You all know and trust each other and can keep tabs on each other as well, to ensure that everyone is coping with whatever restrictions are in place at the time. But when you are in a block of three, four or five hundred other students, the chances of this particular bubble being compromised are exponentially increased – the mind boggles actually – at current infections rates, the chances are you could be in lockdown 'till you are twenty-five!
When I speak to students at the moment, they are most pissed about not getting the full education they are paying for (that and not being able to party 'till 4 am), and as such, anything that can be done to get back to a more normal form of education should be embraced, and as such, I feel a little sorry for the universities who have invested millions in building the purpose-built student accommodation blocks, only for them to effectively become the one thing that may be causing the universities to not be able to open properly. Personally, I would fear the risk of being stuck in a lengthy lockdown like the Manchester students that seem to be kept in almost perpetually, as the virus spreads through the halls.
I know if I was going to Uni now, I would stay as far away from halls as possible – not even go there for a party – and make sure that I and my housemates were making the most of a pretty crappy time to be at university. But you can’t change the time you were born in, you just have to make the most of it, and control the circumstances you can.
What do you think? Purpose-built student accommodation or the private sector? The choice is yours.