In this January start, some universities have reopened, some courses have resumed. But the restrictions linked to the pandemic have multiple consequences. Psychological consequences but also on the organization of the courses and the validation of the exams. This week, we are going to see if it is the same with our neighbors, in Rome, in London, in Berlin and in Madrid, where the students encounter, as in France, great difficulties.
In Italy, vaccination is progressing rapidly. On the other hand, for the students, it is a disaster. He has had virtually no lessons since last March. The freshmen haven’t set foot in college. The university is forgotten by this health crisis. While the school and its difficulties are at the heart of the public debate, the University is absent.
In Rome, the universities of La Sapienza and La LUMSA tried for a few weeks to promote the first years, which take place every other week. But in that of Roma Tre, nothing. Not a course. No one has returned to the benches of the university. Even the technical and scientific committee that advises the government is becoming too alarmist. He is worried that some will not return at all this year, because the organization does not follow. Not enough public transport, not enough space. The students demonstrate to return, but in complete safety.
In Germany, in Berlin, it is not joy either. Despite a rigorous organization of distance learning courses, universities are closed, as at Humboldt University, where the psychological state of students is worrying. The campuses have been closed since March 2020. Here, you enter in April or October. This means that it has already been two cohorts of students who have entered empty campuses, to take online courses. The situation is very difficult, especially for the first years, but not only them. They complain of social isolation, of the lack of contact with their teachers, with the students.
More than double the number of usual students contacted a psychological support unit compared to a normal year. They are financially afraid. They lost their odd student job. Bars and restaurants have been closed in Germany since the beginning of November, for example. The students say to themselves that their studies will have to be longer than one semester, or even two semesters and that they will have to be financed.
UK, one of the issues that preoccupies students the most is the financial question. No more lessons, no odd jobs. Because you have to continue to pay school fees, a fortune in England. At City University of London, the university building was quickly deserted. However, when the year started, the students were in a hurry to come back to class, sometimes finding themselves immediately in isolation on campus, as soon as there was a positive case around them. And again for each new case, with meals brought on site, meals that are sometimes late, expired or made up of the same sandwich every day.
At the same time, they continue to pay tuition fees: 10,000 euros for example for the year to Edinburgh. LThe courses, sometimes, are absolutely not interactive. There are simple videos on YouTube, not to mention the rents that some are still paying when they have now returned to their parents. In addition, they have been regularly accused of spreading the virus through campus parties, as massive tests a month ago showed students were affected by 3%. Result: future students, current high school students, plan to study very close to home to stay close to their family and so that it does not cost too much.
In Spain, the big subject of debate, it is not so much the organization of the courses as the organization and the validation of the exams. These reviews will finally be held. But that is not unanimous. The courses are semi-face-to-face. Some are taught on site at universities and others take place on the internet.
But is it really reasonable to summon hundreds or even thousands of students to lecture halls? Are health security conditions met in the corridors, in the university restaurants? Is it even normal to open the windows in the middle of winter? The students believe not. They mobilized. A delegation met the Minister of Universities. He listened to them politely. Quite simply, the rectors have the last word. And they consider it impossible to avoid cheating if students are working from home. Third wave or not, the exams will take place at the university.