Author Archives: gabsjournalism

Students struggle with university moving online amid Coronavirus outbreak and here is how

As a result of the Coronavirus rapidly spreading and impacting the education system, thousands of institutions in the country have shut their doors, and schools have officially cancelled GCSE, AS and A level exams and awarded students with mock examination results and previous coursework grades instead.

However, this is not the case for most university students, as instead of having their exams and coursework cancelled, several universities have adapted to still deliver their content online so that students can finish the semester from home during the lockdown and receive their final grades.

Most universities within the UK are carrying out lectures and seminars via an online classroom within the university’s corresponding system software and assisting students’ queries via emails. Some universities are also offering students one-to-one scheduled Skype tutorials.

“I just want everything to be back to normal. I certainly didn’t sign up to pay nine grand a year to be taught online” – Miriam Croitoru, student at the University of Bournemouth

Several students from universities across the country give their views on how they feel about attending class from their own homes and how they remain efficient whilst going through quarantine.

Emmanuel Dario, Maths and Economics Foundation student at Brunel University London, Miriam Croitoru, Journalism second-year student at the University of Bournemouth, and Ella Frankcom, Computer Network Security first-year student at the University of Westminster express how working from home isn’t ideal.

They explain how distractions around them won’t allow them to get on with their work as they normally would when they were able to be within a student environment, and how not having direct face-to-face interaction with lecturers is also making it more difficult despite universities’ efforts to make classes online as viable as possible.

Hassan Ubaide, an undergraduate Medicine student at Kings College London says how although his university cancelling placements have enabled him to focus more on his exam revision, he also finds it harder to study from home.

“My university has cancelled all physical teaching and placements and has resorted to online teaching. I quite like that I don’t have to go placements, as I can focus more on exam revision. I use my old notes to study now and watch YouTube videos”

“Although, I find it harder to study at home as it’s easier to become complacent. I upturn my bed when I wake up to force myself to study and put it back to normal at night.”

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

COVID-19 has also affected how many final year students will complete their degrees, as the rapid spread has caused the facilities of certain universities to be shut down, leaving many students in the dark and unable to access essential material to help with dissertations and final year projects.

Due to the pandemic leading to lockdown, some third-year students seem to be finding it very difficult to get their final projects done and being forced to find alternatives and working their way around completing their practical work, leaving some struggling to create a good portfolio.

“I’m kind of stuck in the mud. I can’t really do much, everything is up in the air” – Adam Kudur, student at the University of Westminster, London

Adam Kudur, a third-year Contemporary Media Practice student at the University of Westminster, expresses how the lockdown has deeply affected his final year project due to it consisting of a live show event, presenting visual and audio experiences which would have taken place at a club but which he had to cancel due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

“I’m kind of stuck in the mud. I can’t really do much, everything is up in the air as we also just got announced that there will be a lockdown in the UK, so stricter measures are being made and it looks like it’s just getting worse. It has affected everything and my projects and portfolio have suffered.”

“My final project was meant to be my golden ticket to the industry, which was meant to be me hosting my own event and putting on a really good production of visuals and music but I won’t even be able to make that happen properly.”

“For example, for my final project, I wanted to use the green screen room and even that was taken away. So now I’m going to have to buy a green screen with my own money, and even if I buy the equipment I need, I’m going to have to get people from different areas to come to wherever I can set up the green screen and try to film it which I don’t think will be possible anyway.”

“We are very understanding to the issues students face in accessing experts, contacts, and restrictions on doing any fieldwork or filming outside.” – Anastasia Denisova, professor and Journalism course leader at the University of Westminster

Despite the difficulty for many students to complete their work during the lockdown, some universities have informed that they will be lenient with their marking considering the circumstances, which should help some students feel more at ease.

Anastasia Denisova, professor and Journalism course leader at the University of Westminster expresses how it is important for content to still be delivered despite the pandemic so that students are able to complete the modules they have been working on for the previous weeks of the semester. She also tells WNOL how university staff is being understanding with current issues students are facing due to the pandemic.

“It is an unprecedented time for everyone, and people in all jobs and roles find it hard to concentrate and adapt to the new routine. It is important to follow the rhythm of the academic year so that students can complete the assessments that they have been learning hard for and apply the skills they have achieved in the previous 9 weeks before the lockdown and the ones they learn now, under new provisions.”

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Image from PublicDomainPictures.net

“Cancelling all coursework could have resulted in a psychological bummer – as people would have struggled with the interruption of the structure of the semester and not getting the sense of achievement – hence we decided to proceed with online provision and offer plenty of online support, including Skype tutorials and interactive classes.”

“We are very understanding to the issues students face in accessing experts, contacts, and restrictions on doing any fieldwork or filming outside – hence we have eased the requirements for original material and interviews, research methodology, we ask students to reflect in the supporting documents to their coursework on the difficulties they faced due to the pandemic, and we will be much more lenient in marking. Students can also apply for an extension to the deadline if they have been affected by self-isolation.”

How Coronavirus is affecting the homeless

With COVID-19 worsening, this puts in question how homeless people are meant to cope with the situation, as homeless charities face cuts and churches and drop-ins are forced to close their doors.


The Coronavirus pandemic has and continues to spread severely, as according to The Guardian, there are currently over 250,000 cases worldwide and 3,983 confirmed cases in the UK, with people being advised to self-isolate at home and avoid staying out on the streets.

But what happens to those who don’t have a home to self-isolate in?

The pandemic puts forward a new threat to those who don’t have direct access to food, homing and basic sanitation, and therefore places them at a greater risk of potentially contracting the virus.

“The Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets” – Andrew Mcley, worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen

Those who live on the street don’t have the chance to wash their hands for 30 seconds several times throughout the day and they are unable to stockpile on food and hand sanitising gel, like the rest of us privileged ones are.

The Church of England made the decision of shutting down all churches as places of worship last Tuesday evening 17th of March, therefore also affecting the homeless as services are cancelled, and charities running soup kitchens within churches are denied access to the kitchens.

 

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Image from Ealing Soup Kitchen

 

Certain homeless charities including Ealing Soup Kitchen in West London are facing cuts and are currently only able to provide one service a week from four which they were able to provide before.

Andrew Mcleay, a current worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen comments: “the Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets.”

“The devastation of this will lead to many more problems down the line, as many will feel even more isolated and alone as drop-ins and churches are closing around them and even night shelters are forced to close. So they really are on their own. It will mean that some who may not have otherwise may now turn to drugs and alcohol which will lead to an increase in services needing to cater for that.”

Ealing Soup Kitchen would serve around 400 homeless people weekly and with other services shutting down, they are looking into how they would be able to provide somehow else.

The charity’s workers are currently looking into how they will be able to serve the homeless in other ways by doing outreach on the days which they have lost, and find those on the streets to see how they can help them.

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Image from Ealing Soup Kitchen

Similarly, other charities including Brixton Soup Kitchen in South London are also adapting their services to still be able to help the homeless during the coronavirus crisis, making it able for people to pick up food and essentials whilst restricting physical contact.

In a video posted on March the 16th via Twitter, they report how they will be needing more essentials and encourage people to donate, as they are running out due stockpiling leaving supermarkets short of supply.

Public outrage against the media emerges in aftermath of Caroline Flack affair

Public outrage has emerged following the death of Caroline Flack, questioning the safety of public figures under media scrutiny once again.

The television presenter, who was going through a difficult situation during the time of allegedly assaulting her boyfriend back in January, was reported to have taken her own life by hanging herself at her flat in West London on the 15thof February.

Ever since, comments and posts have emerged on the internet pointing fingers at various sources including tabloid newspapers such as The Sun and the Daily Star, social media trolls, the Crown Prosecution Services and Flack’s management at ITV.

Several users have blamed the gutter press for having “blood on their hands”, accusing them of contributing towards Flack’s death by repeatedly publishing sensationalist headlines, claiming how what happened to her was “death by the media”, as it allegedly caused the star to feel that suicide was the only way out.

As mentioned by sources including The Guardian, Flack’s family has shared an unreleased Instagram post by the presenter which she had written days before taking her own life, as an inquest into her death. In it, she stated: “I’ve accepted shame and toxic opinions on my life for over 10 years and yet told myself it’s all part of my job. No complaining.”

“The problem with brushing things under the carpet is… they are still there and one day someone is going to lift that carpet up and all you are going to feel is shame and embarrassment.”

“I’ve been having some sort of emotional breakdown for a very long time.”

The presenter’s ex-boyfriend, Andrew Brady, has also recently published a post on his official blog which he titled ‘Caroline Flack’s Death – Who is to blame?. In it, he blamed various people including producers at ITV for not providing enough psychological support and not protecting the presenter during her time hosting Love Island by “leaving her to dry with the tabloids.”

Several users have also referenced recent cases in which other Love Island stars have died due to suicide, and demand for the producers of the show and tabloids to take some responsibility. They have called out for mental health awareness and for people to be kinder and support those who may be suffering from mental disorders.

Steven Barnett, a leading media academic and professor of Communications at the University of Westminster comments on how the consistent harassment of nasty tabloid stories about Caroline Flack had led her to feel desperate and labels UK regulatory body Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) as useless due to not properly implementing codes of conduct, as it is owned by the newspapers themselves.

Although, Barnett also mentions that it should not be speculated why Caroline Flack had committed suicide, as there most likely were various reasons why this could have been;

“Most tabloid showbiz reporters work on the basis that celebs are fair game even if what they write is untrue, unfair or just nasty. There is a press code of conduct that is supposed to be implemented by IPSO, which unfortunately is completely useless because it is owned and run by the newspapers themselves.”

“IPSO is useless and frankly no more than a fig-leaf which allows the press to pretend that they run a proper regulatory system. It is no more than a puppet regulator which allows the press to treat its own code of conduct with contempt, as they have been doing for decades.”

“We should not and must not speculate on why she took her own life, there were probably multiple reasons. Whatever the reason, the constant harassment and nastiness of some of those tabloid stories will surely have contributed to a sense of desperation at a very low point in her life.”