More than half of students see face to face teaching as a top priority this autumn term and onwards, according to the UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission (SFC). The results also found that the disrupted academic year has left 78% of university students with noticeably worse mental health. The findings highlight that 7 out of 10 students considered dropping out of university during this academic year with the majority stating loss of in-person teaching as a primary reason.

These findings indicate why TASO is keen to understand better how the pandemic and move to online teaching and learning has impacted the awarding gap and affected the educational attainment of disadvantaged learners. We are currently seeking submissions of evidence from the wider sector to broaden our understanding, evidence that will also inform the Commission’s work.

Within the SFC survey, there were some positive findings, with 45% of students wanting most learning to be delivered in person with a blend of online delivery once or twice a week. Additionally, 72% of respondents were content with how their university handled assessments.

These topline findings are important and suggest that some of the changes the pandemic has brought may end up changing teaching, learning and the student experience for the long term. They do not fully address the question of how disadvantaged students have been affected in particular, which is the focus of TASO’s call for evidence.


Dr Omar Khan, Director of TASO, and a Student Futures Commissioner said:

The findings show that the difficulties students are facing as a result of Covid-19 and the shift towards digital learning is important for the sector to evaluate. There is a particular concern that the pandemic has, or will, further widen the educational attainment gap that already exists between disadvantaged learners and their peers.

TASO aims to contribute to the UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission public call for written evidence. Our new evidence toolkit and research project on Teaching and learning in the time of COVID will help inform the evidence we submit.

As an appointed Student Futures Commissioner, I and other commissioners will also explore the evidence submitted and make recommendations on how universities can take action to best support all students from September 2021.