Student union concerned for students with extreme loneliness, depression
Educational institutions have been struggling to support students the way they had promised. Student union LSVb is expressing concern for students in higher education, especially first-year students, who report feelings of loneliness, disproportionately high levels of stress, and depression.
LSVb chair Lyle Muns, says he is worried about the well-being of new students in particular, saying that “they have very limited physical classes, and this is especially difficult for them since they barely know their fellow students in higher education institutions.”
The union claims that many institutions have not done enough to support students. “For example, first-year students of management at the Erasmus University got an email in September saying that they wouldn’t give any physical classes. Also, we called upon universities to rent extra locations to make more physical classes possible, but many of them haven’t done this,” Muns tells NL Times.
De Telegraaf spoke to various students from the Universiteit Leiden, who all expressed a heightened sense of uncertainty. The main concerns cited are “being home all the time” and a “lack of motivation.” One student explains the difficulty of staying focused during online classes.
“I notice that I find it much harder to concentrate at home. I’ve been missing classes because I don’t engage as much. It has also been harder to pay attention because I get distracted more easily at home.”
Another critical concern is loneliness. Many students feel that they are in this alone. This is especially the case for first-year students, some of whom have not yet been on campus at all yet this year. “You’re on your own all the time. If I don’t reach out to other people, I’m completely alone,” says one female student.
Most higher education institutions prioritize practical degrees such as physiotherapy or performing arts degrees. This means that studies in more theoretical fields have been neglected since they have no access to on-site facilities at all.
Schools are currently allowed to run at a 30 percent capacity. That leads to a prioritization of first-year students and those for whom access to on-site facilities is crucial, says journalist Jessy Burgers. “Still, many first-year students have not yet been to campus once.”
The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) recognizes that it is difficult to teach first-years. “Now that infections are rising, it also means that teachers have to stay at home, which means that lessons cannot take place,” said a spokesperson. It is hard to say how institutions can provide a better experience for first-year students, they add. “It is clear that it is not always possible to physically supervise all students.”