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Fears students could be left behind due to coronavirus crisis

By Harriet Evans | Walsall | Coronavirus | Published:

There are concerns the coronavirus crisis could hamper the studies of university students.

Inderpal Ghuman, aged 20, is training to be an optometrist

Inderpal‌ ‌Ghuman, aged 20, of The Chuckery, Walsall, has just completed his first year of the BSc Optometry programme at Aston University in Birmingham.

The course, which usually is very hands-on, has been drastically changed to respect social distancing, and like many other courses has continued to support students through Zoom lectures and even online experiments.

Inderpal and his peers fear that the changes may leave them at a disadvantage to other graduates.

He said: “I had a meeting recently with my head of department, Professor Leon Davies at Aston Optometry who has informed students of a new blended learning approach going forward composing of lectures, additional support materials, clinical and pre-clinical labs and virtual patients.

“With fewer patients willing to visit the onsite Aston Eye Clinic, some students may feel they are not getting as rigorous training and exposure compared to pre-covid graduates.

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“For those working within the NHS they may not face damaged career prospects but those who undertake private sector work such as dentists, physiotherapists and optometrists may suffer with an incoming recession. Second year students moving into their third year, have been enrolling on virtual internships and placements, but all will agree this doesn’t quite match the real thing.

“Other allied healthcare courses such as BNurs (Bachelor of Nursing) courses have been shifting theory-based work to the first term of the 2020-2021 year and placements later on in the year.

“Some student nurses have been recruited by the NHS to help support departments.

Inderpal Ghuman

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“MBBS Medicine and BDS Dentistry courses are patient focussed like the BSc Optometry programme and have been and will be disrupted vastly next year and beyond.”

Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, Inderpal has praised the support he has had from his university which quickly made adjustments to assessments.

Like many other students, he is still struggling with not being able to meet his course mates and lecturers face to face on campus and the drastic change to student life.

Inderpal added: “Due to the robust and continuous communication between students at Aston University and the Vision Sciences department I do feel supported.

Inderpal Ghuman

“However, many other students and I certainly feel a sense loss and loneliness due to being stuck at home and sadness due to the abrupt way university life has and will be changed for the foreseeable future.

"I do feel for recent A-Level students who will have had seven months out of education attending university this autumn; further being compounded with the usual university transitional anxiety.

"For prospective students studying healthcare courses, I would say keep positive, and keep focused on your end goal of qualifying but take this change as opportunity to develop as a person and clinician."

Harriet Evans

By Harriet Evans
Community Reporter - @HarrietEvans_ES

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, covering the issues affecting young people across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Contact me at harriet.evans@expressandstar.co.uk

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