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An Account Centered on the Concept of ‘Student Experience’ in UK HE Since the Emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic


The world, of late, is facing a pandemic that has been proving itself to be one of the major issues in the current world. The higher education system in the UK is being severely affected by the lockdown imposed by the UK government. This research provides an account of the student experience in UK HE since the emergence of Covid 19. The research analyses the challenges of students, staff in the UK in the context of the covid 19 situation.The campus of different universities has remained closed in the time of pandemic and the UK government has imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country in this time which severely affected the education of foreign students who were studying in the universities like Oxford, Cambridge, and so on. In this research, the data that have been used are secondary qualitative data due to the inability of primary data due to the lockdown. The essay examines the negative impact on the higher education system of the United Kingdom. As the UK is a developed country and the country stepped into the global approach of education foreign students across the globe have come despite being faced different difficulties. The research lights the topic of safety measures for the prevention of Covid 19 taken by the government of the UK. The research also elaborates the matter that describes the experience of international graduate vans postgraduate students in this pandemic situation. The research will aid in the finding of the right approach that should be taken not only by the government of the UK but also every government of the world.


Literature Review

Student experience in the UK HE since Covid 19 pandemic

The essay reviewed that the UK has been severely affected by the covid 19 virus resulting in the pandemic situation that compelled the UK government to impose strict lockdown across the country. The strict lockdown has had many consequences in the higher education system and all universities like Oxford and Cambridge had been shut during the peak time of the covid 19 outbreak. The universities and schools could not refrain from shutting down the university campuses. Along with the indigenous students, the foreign students who were pursuing different courses and studies in the UK got severely affected. The corona virus pandemic along with various measures that have been taken by the UK has affected the education system and introduced the whole education system to an edge of a hazard. The foreign students have been compelled to communicate with their universities online which were not as effective as the offline education system was (Dost et al., 2020).

As stated by Franchi, (2020) the foreign students were being mentally affected as they were confused thinking about what to do in this situation. Much higher education students have been found in a unique situation, perhaps isolated in a room with others they do not even know. A wide range of research has been conducted on the wellbeing of students due to being impacted by the covid 19 virus including the ‘Student covid insights survey’ (SCIS) which was conducted by the ‘office for national statistics (ONS). A huge 29% of students have been dissatisfied with their experience in the pandemic situation (Longhurst, et al., 2020). The universities have given notice of closure without any prior notification. It has also been reported that two-thirds of the students have downloaded the apps of CNHS covid 19 or ‘protect Scotland’ (Tice et al., 2021).

According to Swift et al., (2020) when the students have been asked what measures they would take if they developed covid 19 symptoms they stated that they would request the government to take the test and would request their universities to open the campuses. Not only that but also the students coming from African countries like Nigeria, South Africa and many more like these countries have stated that the online education system was not helping the students as these students were facing difficulties communicating with their teachers on online platforms due to weak mobile networks in their respective countries. On the contrary, the students from foreign countries like India and China who were studying in the UK have been reported to state that the country was imposing an overstrict lockdown that hampering the free flow of the higher education system (Raaper and Brown, 2020).

As stated by Longhurst et al., (2020) a recent few pieces of research have stated that the universities mainly involved in the desk-based study and learning like self-study and online learning whereas around a quarter of the students who participated in the research stated that the studies in the universities are involved in the class-based learning. The universities though are trying no0w to revive its normal working schedule despite the outbreak of new variants of covid 19 virus-like omicron. It has also been seen that the students from India and China are not showing interest in further going to the UK for higher study. These countries are trying to retain their students for their internal demand in the market. The UK government is however trying to outsource the people and many companies like Tata group are eagerly waiting for these students to hire them (Burns, Dagnall, and Holt, 2020).

According to Sandhu and de, (2020) large companies have been the subject of interest from the students for the employment purpose and this is one of the main reasons why the foreign students along with indigenous students are approaching further study despite facing difficulties like fear of being infected. As the UK is a developed country and holds the fifth position in the global economy, the universities have been benefited by the government regularly which has been stopped by the government of the UK. The universities were expecting to resume their study from 9th December of 2021 during the autumn term and when the students have been asked whether they are feeling equipped to participate in the study in the online procedure, 16% of them have firmly disagreed or disagreed. On the contrary, these students have stated that during this time they would like to involve themselves in the employment sector (Dost et al., 2020).

In the opinion of Gamage et al., (2020) as the socio-economic structure of the UK is strong indigenous students have faced fewer problems than foreign students. The universities have been seen aiding the indigenous students and many foreign students have alleged that the universities were biased with the indigenous students and the universities have taken different discriminatory steps during this covid 19 pandemic. The students coming from African countries Nigeria, Congo, Sudan, South Africa have stated that they have faced difficulties in the online system due to the discriminatory strategies that were taken by universities to lift indigenous students in the employment sector, and this allegation came from the African countries. Not only that but also they alleged that they have been subjected to hatred and have not been entitled to reach in the soil of the UK as they might spread the covid 19 virus (Choi et al., 2020).

As stated by Melnikovas, (2018) these students also stated that they moved to the United States for their pending higher study. When asked how satisfied they are based on the system of study at the time of the pandemic, a majority of the students have stated that they were dissatisfied with the ongoing higher education system.

Research Questions

  • What is the impact of covid 19 in UK HE during the pandemic?
  • What are the measures taken by universities to alleviate the impact of covid 19 on the higher education system?
  • What are the challenges that have been faced by students in the UK during pandemic?
  • What are the measures taken by the UK government to revive the free flow of the higher education system?


Saunders Onion Model

Figure 1: Saunders Onion Model

(Source: Anderson and Saunders, 2003)

In this research, the Saunder’s onion model has been applied followed by a secondary qualitative research design has been adopted. The secondary qualitative data has been adopted due to its ability to interpret existing data. The data that has been gathered were secondary qualitative in nature. The secondary qualitative data is cost-effective and can prevent duplicity of information. The researcher was not able to incorporate primary data due to the global lockdown caused by the Covid 19 pandemic situation. The secondary sources of data included books, journals, and publications on the subject of higher education that has been affected by covid 19 pandemic situation in the UK (Melnikovas, 2018)

The study included interpretivism research philosophy. Interpretivism research philosophy has been applied in the study because this research philosophy integrates human interest. This research philosophy states that the world however can be interpreted in a specific subjective manner. An inductive approach has been used in this research as this approach can provide instant and first-hand knowledge with information obtained by actual observation. An exclusion and inclusion criteria have been used by researcher to find appropriate data. The inclusion and exclusion criteria include the keywords, language, and primitiveness of data (Jayalath et al., 2020).


The researcher has applied the saunder’s onion model as this model can help the researcher to understand the decision that needs to form in terms of the research design that the researcher has to undertaken. The researcher shall use interpretivism research philosophy because this research philosophy interprets all the elements of the study in which the philosophy is going to be applied. As the secondary data collection method shall be the only option due to the lockdown imposed by the UK government and other governments across the globe the collection of primary data shall be impossible (Händel et al., 2020).

The secondary data collection method includes all types of books, journals, and publications on the research subject though; the primary data would be best fitted. The researcher would integrate inclusion and exclusion criteria to find suitable data. The researcher shall exclude all data that were written in languages other than English. Apart from that primitiveness of data and several keywords would be applied to find appropriate and suitable data. All data dated before 2017 shall be excluded due to having a chance of irrelevance (Dianito et al., 2021).


The research examined the negative impact on the UK HE during the pandemic situation. The research evaluates the views of the students who were pursuing different courses in the UK. The research stated that not only the indigenous students of the UK but also the foreign students have faced difficulties in continuing their higher studies and the online procedure has been proved to be miserable. The research also recorded the experience of the foreign students as well as of indigenous students who stated that they have witnessed discriminatory measures from the UK governments. The research identified the scope of development of higher education in the UK. On the contrary, the research evaluated the thinking of the students in this regard and identified their main concerns associated with their higher studies in the UK during the pandemic. The main objectives of the research have been satisfied as the research has been able to find out the scope of development of the UK government’s education department which could attract the students to study in the UK.


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