Special feature:

Studying in a Pandemic

Everyone’s student experience has been quite different over the last year. We sincerely hope that the new vaccines and increased social distancing will see us all back on campus in the weeks and months ahead.

But how have our students been coping with the new normal? Our CampusConnect team caught up with a couple of international students whose studies began during lockdown and we caught up with a couple of Science students who are very much looking forward to getting back on campus

Dr Matteo Borrini - from LJMU’s School of Biological and Environmental Sciences - puts on his magician’s hat to present his take on the pandemic.

Kenza, LLM Master of Laws

“I have started my course online from my home in Morocco: we’ve had an induction meeting and it was great! I find the canvas very reliable but of course I would love for the situation to get back to normal ASAP. The university has helped me a lot throughout the process, actually. Whenever I have the slightest question, my student counsellor does his best to answer them. I’m looking forward to a lot of things but if I’m to pick one I would say meeting everyone and just having a casual outing to get to know other people.”

Anusha, MSc Embedded Systems and IC Design

“2020 was definitely the most uncertain year of my life. Initially I received an offer for September 2020, but Covid paused my plans. My final exams got delayed so I had to defer my offer for January 2021. I applied for a Masters in Embedded Systems and IC Design with a placement year. This course is unique; not many universities offer it, but LJMU is one of them.

The situation was getting better before the new strain in the UK made things difficult, especially for international students. Our flights were cancelled, tickets rescheduled and our plans to travel to the UK before the start of the first semester delayed. Attending classes live and online feels different for an international student, but I’m thankful to our faculty who are trying their best to give us a classroom experience. People are patient with us, answering every email and query within no time. This makes us feel a little comfortable and I cannot wait to personally meet everyone. I hope things go back to normal as soon as possible.

You can read the full CampusConnect article here.

Warren Moore, MSc Brain and Behaviour

“Although studying remotely during the covid-19 pandemic has been socially isolating, this unusual situation has made us band together and form a supportive student community. Lecturers have spent many hours helping to modify our projects, so that this does not impact our final grades. Lecturers, module leaders and program leaders have gone above and beyond to alleviate our frustrations and worries by staying in regular contact with updates. Rather than recording all lectures, live Zoom sessions have allowed us to feel like we are there in the room with our fellow students, prompting discussion and social interaction.  It is obvious that the staff recognise our frustrations and the extra work that they have put in to maintain the quality of the course and to minimise the negative mental health impact on students has been fantastic."

Hasan Ali, MSc Brain and Behaviour

“My MSc has practical elements that would have involved me going onto campus for a number of sessions as well as regular lectures. Although we were able to get a few practical sessions in during the first semester, the development of the COVID pandemic meant that the practical sessions have been pushed back. Fortunately my lecturers are putting even more effort into teaching and creating resources than usual. I look forward to when we can get back to campus.”

Bethany Donaghy, MSc Brain and Behaviour graduate

“We knew something was coming with all the Covid coverage but when we got the email to say we needed to study online, it still felt like a shock. The amazing thing, however, was that our tutors did not have a one size fits all approach. They listened to individual requirements and tailored learning around each person’s needs. I am autistic and need time to come to terms with change but the course was adapted to ensure we all got the most out of it. My lab-based research project could no longer go ahead so I used what was happening around me and started to look into how Covid and its associated social distancing was impacting chronic pain. And the great news is that online learning did not impact my career development and I took up a role in industry on graduation.”

Louisa Toohey, MSc Digital Marketing

“Having such a busy schedule with work and because I don’t drive, online learning has enabled me to utilise my time wisely and also given me a good work/school/life balance. I enjoy online learning, it is fun and engaging and I get to do all of it in the comfort of my home.”

Virtual Sessions in Action

Athletes George Ford (England Rugby), Paul Mulrennan (Flat Jockey), Zoe Gillings (four times Winter Olympian) and Geraint Thomas (BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018 winner and Tour De France winning cyclist) spoke with students virtually during the first lockdown. The MSc Sport Nutrition team arranged weekly Q&A sessions with elite athletes to discuss their nutrition strategies with students. The athletes, who have all received nutrition support from members of LJMU’s nutrition team, provided unique insights into their nutrition and training strategies. Meanwhile Dr Carl Woods, Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University, Melbourne, shared his research with students on the MSc Sports Coaching. Carl talked about how athletes interact with their environment to produce skill. This was a great learning experience for coaches on the MSc Sport Coaching who then considered how they design their coaching environments.  

What is CampusConnect?

CampusConnect is an app open to all offer holders at LJMU. You should have received your invitation to the app just after you received your study offer from us. The app is always a huge hit with students but, in the current climate, has become even more important, enabling applicants to meet their peer group online, chat to current students and staff and get answers to their questions.

Sign up today and become part of our vibrant online community. If you have any queries about your invitation, please email: courses@ljmu.ac.uk

A Sporting Chance

In typical LJMU fashion, as the university has been helping students adapt to the new normal, our students have been busy helping others. Professional Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology students Freddie Turner and Emily White have been supporting young athletes through sport psychology sessions and tasks over Zoom throughout the pandemic.

“LOCKDOWN has been an extremely challenging time for all our gymnasts and their families,” explained Sophie Whelan, head coach at Warrington Gymnastics Club where the girls work.

“We are amazed at the strength and determination they have continued to demonstrate during all three occasions we have had to close.” The club created an effective Zoom timetable to ensure personal coaches were able to interact and work with their squads. This has included sessions with Freddie and Emily and helped keep the relationships strong between the coach and athlete to keep things as close to normality as possible. “We have been able to allocate one to two hours per day on our athletes’ normal training days for Zoom sessions, where coaches can watch, feedback and motivate their squad through their individualised programmes,” says Sophie. “Sport has always been a great outlet for children and young adults, and this hasn’t changed since we haven’t been in the gym.”

“This past year has hopefully taught our athletes that it is possible to turn negatives into positives, weaknesses into strengths, and adversity into opportunity.”

We’re ready for you

We may not have had many students on site for a while but work has continued apace at LJMU to get all of our buildings ready for your return. You can find all of the latest on Covid developments on our specialist web pages and, if you want to see what’s happening in our buildings, take a look at our informative video.