Motivation at an all time low for students undertaking their final year of study from home.

Public Relations student Sophie Galante has turned her kitchen bench into her new study space. Image: Supplied

By Kate Rooney

The Coronavirus pandemic has put the world on hold, leaving many isolating at home with nothing to do. However, university students around Australia cannot afford the luxury of pausing time. For some, their entire final year of study will be done via distance learning.

Students at Charles Sturt University were sent home from on-campus learning in late March when Australia first went into lockdown, leaving students to complete their studies at home by themselves. While the university took time to adapt their courses to suit online learning, many still struggled to find the motivation to study from home.

Third-year communication students Sophie Scanlon and Sophie Galante both said that they found their motivation to study dropped significantly once they were sent home. They said that not having a specific study environment and not having their peers around really took a toll on their work ethic.

“When you’re studying with friends on campus, you’re all in the same boat, you all have to get assessments done. Moving back home, your family members don’t understand that…so it was a very distracting environment.”

Sophie Galante, public relations student

Nursing student Claire Dunbar says that she heavily relies on her cohort to find motivation to study and to practice their skills together.

“I think if you ask anybody we rely on one another as a team to do our assessments together and to bounce back off one another with our questions…so it definitely made it a lot harder to complete assessments”

Ellen Taylor, a paramedic student, says that it was difficult for her to stay motivated not having compulsory classes and not being in a specific academic environment.

“My motivation has decreased significantly. I work well in an academic environment and I have that specific place that I go to that I work, whether that be a tutorial room or a library…but when you’re living and studying in the same place you don’t have those boundaries.”

Many placements and practical lessons were also cancelled for the safety of students. However, this caused worry for many students as they require a certain number of practical hours in order to be able to pass their course. For some students, these practicals have to be completed alongside their current course workload or in short periods of intensive sessions.

“Our course structure has changed a lot. When we initially transitioned to online our practicals were obviously cancelled… and we then had to make up for them in a two-week intensive session. We’re having to double up on our practical sessions to make up for what we’re missing.”

Ellen Taylor, paramedic student

After completing the remaining session 1 online, students at CSU completing practical courses such as paramedicine, nursing, and dentistry were able to move back on campus, abiding by the NSW Health social distancing rules. However, majority of students still remain at home, completing their final year of study by distance online learning.

Third year paramedic student Ellen Taylor says that her chances of getting a job after graduation are looking slim due to overseas or interstate applications not being taken. Image: Supplied

Students are also concerned about the job opportunities they have once they graduate at the end of this year. While some degrees such as nursing and public relations are in high demand, other such as journalism have seen significant job cuts. Because of the large number of students studying paramedics, Ellen says that her chances of getting a job after graduation are looking unlikely.

“The industry that I’m trying to get into is competitive naturally and a lot of students do move overseas or interstate to start working as a paramedic but with Covid, some states have closed off their recruitment or for some, such as London, they’ve completely cancelled their recruitment for international applicants. So, it’s making the job hunt a lot harder and it does make it quite concerning.”