It was not a ‘honeymoon’


I RECENTLY read a local news report with the headline stating that the “honeymoon” is over for university students, who would have to return to campus to begin the 2021/2022 academic year soon.

I can bluntly say the headline is out of touch with reality.

Was it really a “honeymoon” for university students who, for the past two years, have been forced to continue their studies via online classes day and night, working on their assignments within the four walls of their room?

It was worse for those who had to venture outdoors to get stable Internet connectivity just to “attend” classes and complete their assignments.

Being the social animals we students naturally are, we need to have human interaction. Before Covid-19 disrupted our lives, we could easily go out with friends to release stress after classes or exams.

I truly believe that university life is tougher for most with all the burden of work without the luxury of reaching out to their peers for a coffee or quick meal after class. Yes, it is still possible via Internet video or audio calls to interact with friends and course mates, but the impact is nowhere near that of face-to-face gatherings.

It is also tougher to make new friends or talk to course mates who are not close to us. Random conversations, like saying “hello” to a stranger at the university’s park or the people you pass by as you walk from your faculty to the cafe, became a thing of the past.

All in all, the absence of social interaction does impact on university students, especially when they are coping with intense pressure from their immense workload.

Depression among university students has hit an all-time high. A survey by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health of 983 university students showed that 20.4%, 6.6%, and 2.8% experienced minimal to moderate, marked to severe, and most extreme levels of anxiety respectively due to online learning.

There are also issues pertaining to the course workload. However, I fully understand and appreciate the reasons for lecturers to add the extra workload.

I am using my university’s assessment scheme, which may be different from other universities or even courses. Upon considering the non-feasibility of conducting final examinations, lecturers focused on giving continuous assessments throughout the semester. This entailed more assignments, presentations, tests, and emphasis on participation in tutorials.

Furthermore, the final examinations are no longer restricted to a single paper to be answered within two hours. The papers are divided into two parts, with both having different dates and time slots.

One also has to bear in mind that for every work or examination, the preparation required is anything but brief. Hence, it is not surprising that students are voicing out on social media the mental fatigue of having to stay online for unreasonably long hours at a time.

The university workload issue came under the spotlight in early July this year when two public university students passed away due to ruptured blood vessels, most likely due to stress as both had no prior underlying medical conditions.

I am not complaining or in any way objecting to the way courses are being handled at any university. I know the appropriate channels to go to for this. I just want to clarify the realities faced by university students throughout their two years of online learning.

Saying that students are having a honeymoon in these trying times is totally absurd, out of touch and ignorant. They have suffered enough and are themselves pushing for universities to reopen.

A CONCERNED STUDENT

Ipoh

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letters , honeymoon , university students

   

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