Corona exchange: “It’s confusing, but hopeful”

25 jun 2024

In the spring of 2020 we hosted a follow-up corona meeting for the members of the NSBO network. One question in focus for all participants is the mental health of the students, due to the corona pandemic.

Coworkers from student housing companies in Estonia, The UK, Finland, Iceland and Sweden were represented at the meeting.

Guðrún Björnsdóttir, CEO on Icelands largest student housing company, shared insights from surveys made among students in two universities at Iceland. The answers, unfortunately, revealed that the students are experiencing a lot of worrying and anxiety. Over 50 percent answered 3-5 (on a scale from 1-10where 1 is feeling really bad and 10 is feeling great) to the question: “Due to covid19, how do you feel? “

And over 80 percent of the students feel that the stress and pressure are affecting their learning process. 

The main things that the students worry about, is not being able to finish the semester, having no access to study rooms and – above all – financial worries. 69 percent work alongside their studies, 10 percent of them full-time. The fact that many of them have lost their jobs in the corona pandemic, make them worry about not being able to pay the rent or support themselves or their families.   

Similar surveys have not been made in the other countries represented at the meeting, but as someone put it: “We expect that the students aren’t feeling well, but we don’t know”. 

The good news is that a lot of actions are being taken in order to make the students life both easier and funnier. Here’s a list of some of the measures lifted at the meeting:

  • Arrange digital social events, such as fitness and cooking classesonline. 
  • Boost your social media content with tip and advice on what the students actually CAN do. 
  • Think of fun and creative ways of keeping up the spirit among the students, maybe by a live concert at the yard?
  • If possible, see if you can overlook the restriction of how long the students must stay/pay for the apartment. 

The safety and wellbeing of tenants and staff in focus
The biggest concern among the student housing companies is the great uncertainty about what will happen with the restrictions, and how that’s affecting their business. “Everything is very uncertain, it is a massive challenge for us”, someone pointed out.

But everyone is doing what they can to carry on and make the best of the situation. A poll made among the meeting participants showed that the main focus over the next month is tenants wellbeing, safety and health among the staff and to reduce the spread of the infection. 

To conclude, yes, there are a lot of insecurities. But everyone agreed that it helps to meet people with similar challenges and get the chance to exchange experiences and solutions.  

“It feels confusing, but hopeful”, someone summed it up.