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BPS Student Committee

Student Committee’s response to the findings from the BPS Covid-19 impact survey

27 September 2021 | by BPS Student Committee

In this article the outgoing and incoming chairs of the BPS Student Committee give their thoughts on the findings from the recent BPS Covid-19 impact survey, where some 1,170 undergraduate and postgraduate and academic staff (368) answered questions about their experiences of teaching, learning, research and their general wellbeing during the pandemic in 2020.

Eduard Daniel Margarit - BPS Student Committee Chair

Before acknowledging the hard work that the publication of the “The impact of Covid-19 on students, staff and Departments of Psychology in UK Universities” required I also must attend to the lengthy period it faced before publication.

The Student Committee advocated for a faster and more centred response to address the impact of Covid-19.

As a committee, we increased the numbers of our members and the events we run. We made them more accessible and tried our best to find new ways to connect with our members.

The newly formed Student Hub on the main BPS website offers a roadmap for our members and students.

The report provided us valuable insight into our members and their needs. Our aim is to continue this informed approach and run a second survey, (with a faster response time), but also implement a new Student Survey that will assist the Student Committee at the beginning of the new academic year in delivering its responsibilities.

I thank each and everyone involved in implementing the survey and analysing the report but also to those who assisted the Student Committee this year.

I am aware of the difficulties we all faced, and I am glad to see that despite such a challenging year the Committee managed to implement a series of new developments.

I thank the Student Committee for their hard work and welcome Aiko Leung who will soon take over as chair.

I am fully confident that she and the newly formed committee will continue to advocate for the student members and address the issues and difficulties uncovered by the report.

To our members, I thank you for your engagement, patience, feedback, and support.

Aiko Leung - BPS Student Committee Chair-Elect

The BPS Student committee has always strived to provide the most relevant resources and support for our members.

These findings will serve as the fundament for our team in developing tailored activities and services for this upcoming academic year.

Various proposed plans will be briefly introduced below in accordance to the needs expressed by our student members and staff.

Impact on Teaching and Learning

Due to Covid-19, an overall lower engagement in all learning activities were recorded, in which a decrease in lecture attendance rate was most apparent.

With 69.4% of staff indicating that lectures in the first semester of the academic year 2020-21 will remain online, the BPS student committee, therefore, has a vital role to play in helping fellow students stay motivated to learn during this upcoming academic year.

We strive to promote peer motivation and maintain vivid academic discussions via our online student community and Psych-Talk.

We may also launch regular online study sessions, in hope that constant peer support could help revive and maintain students’ desire and thirst to learn.

Besides an overall decrease in student engagement rate recorded, certain groups of students were specifically found to experience a lower engagement rate in varying activities.

For instance, BAME students were less engaged in one-to-one supervision; students with disabilities, full-time students and students under the age of 26 demonstrated less engagement in all teaching and learning activities; international students experienced a significant decrease in staff-student contact hours and one-to-one support.

The BPS student committee will continue to consult the needs of our diverse members and further act as a bridge between the students and institutions to create improvements that establish an inclusive learning environment.

We will also vastly promote the utilisation of our online student community, which serves as a complementary channel for students to obtain credible resources beyond their institutions.

Financial resources have also been reported to be a challenge that students experience, especially by individuals with caring responsibilities and disabilities.

Creating an inclusive environment for our members to grow and flourish is the duty of the BPS student committee, therefore we will provide accessible and user-friendly financial support for all our upcoming events and provide free membership where possible.

Impact on research

Research opportunities have been reported to be negatively impacted by PhD students, while undergraduate students indicated being worried about the quality of research support and supervision received.

Conducting good quality research is crucial in propelling the development of the entire field of psychology. Such requires active support from participants, being informed about the most up-to-date findings and thorough training that ensure integral and good practice.

In order to help ease the struggles put forth, the BPS student group aims to launch two new services in response.

Firstly, we propose to launch a new research participant recruitment portal that helps fellow students in their recruitment process while also encouraging diverse interdisciplinary learning within the field of psychology.

We are also aiming to create a research mentorship programme, in which participating postgraduate students and undergraduate students who share similar interests will be paired up.

While postgraduate students could get assistance from undergraduate students, undergraduate students can gain practical research experience and guidance.

Impact on wellbeing

Both students (70.8%) and staff (76.5%) stated that they experienced a significant decline in wellbeing due to Covid-19, in which increase in workload and subsequent increase in pressure were identified by both parties as a leading factor.

Staff (97.6%) even indicated that their workload is likely going to significantly increase, with 95.3% identifying workload as the greatest challenge they will face in this upcoming academic year.

In response, the BPS student committee looks forward to working closely with institutions to help share the burden by directing students to the benefits, credible resources and activities that the BPS offers.

We also hope to help students maintain good well-being by regularly communicating evidence-based mental health tips and resources via social media platforms, encourage peer support via our student community, possibly hold some face-to-face social events in accordance with Covid regulations and provide stress, pressure management-related talks and blog posts.

Suggestions put forth by students and our actions

Besides identifying the struggles that students faced during the pandemic, we also understand that our members desire more support in report writing, assignment assistance, career guidance and career opportunities.

In regards to academic support, the BPS student group aims to create academic essay writing, report-writing workshops and encourage participation in Psych-Talk.

We will also work closely with the BPS careers team to create career advice that members from diverse backgrounds could relate to, and hope to create more networking events, CV workshops and possibly mentorship schemes in the hope that everyone can find their unique paths into achieving their dreams.

The BPS student committee looks forward to serving our members this upcoming academic year by implementing services that suit the needs of our members.

If you would like to make a suggestion or inform us about gaps that we are currently missing, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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