Annie Scott

First-year law student at University of Edinburgh

I am writing this, having missed my first zoom “lecture” of the day – despite it working fine on previous occasions, it has opted to malfunction. As a first-year uni student, this is nothing new. While I had high hopes for the beginning of term: new friends, new experiences and a progress to higher learning, it has quickly become clear that both universities and students alike are not equipped to handle this new education arrangement.

The general sentiment in my halls of residence is that we students are merely cash cows for unis – bombarded by constant assurances pre-arrival which have proven baseless: the very first day of teaching, the entire system crashed and no one could get through to access lectures. The more astute of us predicted this as a prelude for what would follow...

Older students inform me that they were always advised not to rely solely on the pre recorded lectures for learning, that it was the in-person interaction that was key to getting a good degree.

I pity all the students paying full price for recycled lectures. Even if the wifi in my halls decides to co-operate, as a result of the 6-2 rule, all university interactions have gone online, leaving students staring at a webcam 3+ hours a day. This is in no way a conductive environment for studying and even the lecturers seem to have dwindling faith in this method.

Worryingly, for a nation supposedly so concerned with mental health, there is little consideration for these freshers, alone in a new city, separated from their families, trying to juggle sudden responsibility and adulthood with awkward Zoom ice breakers.

Upon yesterday’s announcement that students would be banned from restaurants, pubs and not be allowed to socialise outside of their households, it was carnage. Social media was bombarded with #sturgeonout, friends of mine felt betrayed upon realising that it was too late to break their contract and return to Glasgow. They, like many, had been inveigled into paying extortionate costs to be cut off from everyone. my English flatmates were dismayed that they were forking out eye-watering tuition for this subpar university experience.

Even when, later, Nicola Sturgeon took to twitter to clarify this request would only last the weekend, this has little effect on the diminishing morale of students.

The demonisation of students has gone on long enough. We have worked our whole life to get to this point, only to be criticised at every turn. Universities are million pound businesses, it’s time we shifted the blame from teenagers socialising, to the people that time and time again assured that it would be safe, only to line their pockets and turn the country against us.