Both PGT and PGR students, being current or prospective, have been affected by COVID-19 and have had to adapt their expectations around a university degree. For example, the pandemic has seriously affected the possibility of studying abroad.
In the UK
- Warwick University has adapted its rules regarding their PGT courses to support actual and prospective students’ concerns regarding mainly the four topics below:
- Classification of degrees: for Masters, Merit and Distinction will be based on 120 credits achieved by the student instead of the typical 180 credits, whereas for Diplomas, Merit and Distinction will be based on 90 credits instead of 120, as used to be.
- Failing a module: students will be allowed to re-sit assessments for those modules that involve professional practice. Besides, the institution has removed its rule by which the students had to reach at least 40% on any failed module.
- Dissertation or research project being impacted: supervisors will be assisting the students in the completion of their researches.
- Mitigating circumstances, extensions, and self-certification: in case of a short-term illness, the student may ‘self-certify for extensions of up to five university working days without needing to provide evidence’. If more time is needed, he or she may apply for this benefit.
- The said approach will be used at least for a year or two.
- Lancaster University has also recognized the impact COVID-19 has had on its PGR students, especially on those in the final year. Hence, the institution has changed some rules to cope with the pandemic situation.
- Some main concerns among the PGR students relate to extension requests, for which will only be considered those that are evidence-based on the impact of COVID-19.
- Even though Lancaster University is preparing the re-opening of laboratories and all the research facilities, for the time being, it is advisable to continue online.
- Another concern among PGR students is whether they will be able to conduct research online. They should be very careful when choosing the subject of study because face-to-face researches run the risk of being paused for some months.
- The University of Manchester also reported remote working, accommodation, PGR funding, and visa status among the main concerns of postgraduate students.
PGT and PGR
- A total of 1,348 prospective students took part in a survey to determine the impact of COVID-19 on their decision to study abroad. The majority of them pursued a master’s degree. Among the NESO (Netherlands Education Support Office) countries, some results were the following;
- 9,6% of the participants were worried about enrollment decisions.
- 23,5% of requested were unsure of admission conditions such as national exam results, and language tests among others.
- 46,4% of prospective students were concerned about visa procedures (not applicable for students with an EU-nationality) .
- 40,3% of the surveyed were worried about finances.
- 35,6% of possible students were doubtful in relation to their scholarship possibilities.
- 62,8% of them manifested uncertainty regarding travel restrictions.
- 27,7% of participants had concerns about access to the healthcare system in the Netherlands.
- 24,1% of requested had concerns about the personal health conditions.
- 34,4% of them preferred the mode of instruction (online or on-campus) at Dutch institute, starting in September 2020.
- Only 6,4% manifested general concerns (not specified).
PGT and PGR
- The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) conducted a study during the spring semester 2020 to collect statistical information on how COVID-19 has impacted on international students’ mobility to/from Finland. The following are some results;
- From 4176 outgoing students, in some higher education institutions (HEI), 20% to 90% of the scholars returned to Finland and only 10% of them canceled exchange beforehand.
- From a total of 4917 incoming students, 30% of them stayed in Finland whereas 48% went back home.
- According to the Finnish Erasmus+ National Agency’s information collected in June 2020, 1/3 of the HEIs have canceled all the incoming and outgoing student mobility for the autumn semester due to the uncertainty provoked by the pandemic outbreak.
- The already mentioned studies also found that even virtual mobility is a good option, it does not replace physical mobility at all.
- COVID-19 also poses problems to doctoral (Ph.D.) students and postdoctoral researchers because of self-isolation and the impossibility of using specialist equipment.
- The main consequence of this is that many of these students have to interrupt their Ph.D. what brings about a funding stop and they are not paid.
- The loss of earnings sometimes leads to the impossibility to pay the rent.