There is no denying that young twenty-somethings have been, in some ways, "cheated out" on some of the best years of their lives, with university as one of the many gambits. There's been no social calendar, something that is essential to student life. No department quiz nights, no freshers, no student house parties, no university bar, no library, no cantine, limited societies - well, for most of the pandemic regardless. All of these things may seem trivial and potentially they are; entitled millennials wanting what they want. Because in the grand scheme of Covid19, who even are students? We're a regulation in the government's agenda.
But before I saturate my words with further disappointment, I do commend our government for how quick the vaccine was and is being rolled out to us under thirties and age groups generally; I thought I'd be waiting until at least July. But the past year has been difficult for us too: We've had the stress of online university lecturing which has forfeited academic success and mental health. We've had the struggle of seeing our own family members being affected by Covid19. We've had the pressure to perform under circumstances beyond our control; We've had the inability to be students - to play as hard as we've worked, to make friends, to love, to experience. We've paid for an education that offers us no future.
As a regulated species in a government agenda, university students have been left to fend for themselves - academically, socially and mentally. Admittedly, I'm a current affairs fiend and read whatever I can find. Over the course of the past year, BBC News, in particular, through no fault of its own, has neglected the stories of students. I do not believe myself to be a journalism expert, but most focus on what is there rather than what isn't. Our stories as students, are there but seem to be overlooked and overshadowed by "more important" matters. There has been a lot going on, pandemic aside with primary and secondary education getting most of the screen time. Rightfully, these matters should be a priority, but when we cover education, shouldn't that mean all education?
In the past year and a half, I've seen 3 or 4 TV news reports covering university students - and that's me being generous (unless I've missed some). At the start of the pandemic, there were students starved unable to leave their flats because of testing positive, then there was the blame on largely students for spreading the virus (not completely incorrect), and recently, the initiated prospect of online lecturing for yet another academic year with universities such as St. Andrews preparing for this already. That's barely one experience accounting for the difficulty university students have faced throughout every lockdown. But almost every day it seems that the BBC News covers those of children in primary and secondary schools. The channel interviews parents, teachers, children and headmasters, even education professionals but none are at all related to university education. Our voices seem to be forgotten in prioritising the future, but let's not omit ourselves from the discussion. As university students, we shape the future - one that we alone may have to hold together with the overwhelming failings of primary and secondary education.
Again our stories are being saturated by others; ours, if told, written as satire for some of the older generations, so we can be categorized as nothing more than egocentric millennials - self-serving and self-righteous, but who are we if not exploited? And we are. The media has failed to recognise our academic struggle and the government's shortcomings to address them. So, ask these questions (perhaps "ask" is too polite here): why are university students paying £9,000 in Wales or £9250 in England on their education? Will it be refunded? Will it be subsidised? Should it be it be? Why couldn't students return back to university in September/October? What are the plans in place? Are there any ways we can help university students? What help is there for graduates looking for employment? Are we really going to give vaccines to poorer countries before we vaccinate our younger generations completely? These are just some of the questions that need to be vocalised on mainstream media, and ones that need to be answered by politicians.
I write all of these words with the hope that we university students will be acknowledged and awarded answers for our futures within a system that positions us into columns that are destined to crumble.