The Covid-19 pandemic has affected Further Education (FE), Higher Education (HE) and the Community Learning and Development (CLD) sector for the past three academic years. During academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 there were significant public health measures in place that affected students for long periods of time. For the 2021-22 session, although the student experience has been closer to what it was pre-Covid, there has still been an ongoing cumulative wider impact on students and learners, where institutions have been implementing voluntary additional measures going beyond the requirements of the statutory guidance. To date, there has been much focus on the direct health harms of the Covid-19 pandemic. This paper considers the indirect, wider harms of the pandemic on students, learners and staff within the FE, HE and CLD sectors from the perspective of stakeholders and drawing on the findings or relevant reports relating to these sectors. Some of these wider harms will not be unique to these sectors and are also likely to have affected other groups.
The COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Universities and Colleges (EAG) provides detailed consideration on how public health and related scientific advice can be applied to operational implementation. It provides advice to Scottish Government and the Advanced Learning Recovery Group to support decision and policy making for the FE, HE and CLD sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EAG met with student, college, university, CLD and union representatives during the autumn of 2022, prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant. This report summarises the findings of these discussions, focusing on the following themes:
- Disruption to student learning
- Mental health and wellbeing
- Social effects
- Financial effects
- Impacts on staff and CLD volunteers
- Ongoing adaptations
This report is intended to be used to support future discussions by the EAG on mitigations of the wider harms’ impacts of Covid-19 on FE, HE and CLD.
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