Improving Student Support in Times of Crisis: An Example of Covid-19 and Support Networks in Higher Education

Associate Professor Rille Raaper, Professor Chris Brown and Dr. Anna Llewellyn, School of Education, Durham University. Email: rille.raaper@durham.ac.uk


The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis in higher education. In particular, the Universities UK (2020) has raised concerns about the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on widening participation by arguing that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds  are likely ‘to suffer from prolonged absence from more traditional support’. It is the potential inequalities associated with student experience and support, and the lessons to be learned for improving educational practice in times of crisis that form the focus of this presentation.

We draw on our exploratory research project that took a social network approach to investigate undergraduate student support networks during the Covid-19 crisis in one Russell Group university in the UK. The findings indicate a variety of intersecting student support needs related to study space and social interaction, and the importance of informal support networks and the lack of it for first generation students.

Student support, Covid-19, online education, widening participation, higher education

%d bloggers like this: