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The impact of COVID-19 on UK higher education students: experiences, observations and suggestions for the way forward

Muzammal Ahmad Khan (School of Business and Creative Industries, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 5 August 2021

Issue publication date: 22 September 2021




This study aims to examine the experiences of UK higher education students and the impact that emergency-imposed changes had on their learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) during the lockdown. It reflects on the views of students on how these changes impacted their education and personal circumstances. It makes suggestions, based on student observations, on how educators might support students’ LTA learning experiences more effectively.


The study uses an anonymous online questionnaire, imposed by lockdown and closure of universities, to gather the views of HE students across the UK on how COVID-19 and lockdown affected their education and personal circumstances. Using a cross-sectional study, participants were asked to complete several questions, providing quantitative and qualitative data which is analysed for the study. A total of 349 participants took part in the questionnaire and data were analysed descriptively.


Key findings suggest that the use of online virtual classrooms as a substitute for traditional face-to-face LTA has its positives and its negatives. The most significant positives are the “flexible assessments” and “digital content” and, in contrast, one of the significant drawbacks is the lack of interactions, this being true for both male and female students. However, as compared to females, males found to be missing “the campus life” more during the lockdown. Finally, the majority of student felt that there was a lack of support from the university and teaching staff during the lockdown. Universities’ governance must take control of how this issue is driven forward and learn from the experience of students.


The study makes three contributions: firstly, using students’ views to open a fresh debate on LTA approaches during the pandemic; secondly, examining the impact on student experiences due to the changes introduced because of lockdown; and finally, suggesting strategies to be implemented by HE management based on the opinions of participating students.



Author would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers who contributed significantly to the improvement of this paper. Author would also want to thank the educators that assisted him in getting the survey out to the students. Finally, he would want to thank students for their active participation in this research; it means a lot to hear their valuable insights.


Khan, M.A. (2021), "The impact of COVID-19 on UK higher education students: experiences, observations and suggestions for the way forward", Corporate Governance, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 1172-1193.



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