Online learning: "I am paying to slowly ruin my eyes"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

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"Money. It’s a strange thing, a concept that places individuals into stereotypes, and to a certain extent defines entirely how others first perceive us. We can be judged for spending too much or not enough on certain items, criticise ourselves for being overly frivolous or stringent or feel constantly out of pocket when we are realistically quite comfortable. I remember first finding out how rude it was to ask somebody their salary and feeling so surprised, yet now I view money as such a taboo topic that I wouldn’t dare to open my banking app in public for the fear of a stranger viewing my bank balance.

"Being a student, finance is an aspect that plays a relatively large role in my life. Whereas before I was provided for primarily by my parents, it is now down to me to buy all my own food and amenities as well as pay for laundry (which is ridiculously expensive by the way) and as much as I enjoy the independence, it is often a challenge to discern how much I should be spending. I am constantly caught in the mindset that every penny I use on a day to day basis is my student loan as I have moved the remainder of my finances to my savings, and it certainly takes a toll on my spending attitudes. Although part of me sees the large figure displayed on my banking app and is drawn to abandon any idea of a budget, there is simultaneously the nagging thought that one day I will have to pay this money back, and nobody particularly enjoys being in debt.

"One thing that has caused a lot of debate this year has been the argument surrounding annual tuition fees and whether these should be decreased this academic year. When dividing this year into semesters, the time I have currently spent at university plus the next month of term amounts to just under £3100, a figure that seems almost laughable. You cannot expect your introductory term to be massively academic and arduous as it is just that, an introduction, yet this year in particular the sum of money seems almost humorous. We lose ten minutes of lesson time due to poor connection and pleas from our lecturer to turn our cameras on, and the least the government could do is provide us with a Specsavers voucher for the extent to which our eyesight has declined from the hours of screen time.

"I remember a particularly bizarre moment where after hours of online learning I looked away and everything suddenly had a blue tint – I am paying to slowly ruin my eyes. Brilliant.

"I understand that universities are delivering the best method of learning possible in the current climate, but no matter how much effort goes into this process I feel that an experience can never be provided that is worth the price tag attached. Petitions, protests and social media rants have all failed to deliver a cut in tuition fees and it does feel like a losing battle. Although these loans aren’t required to be paid back until a certain salary is obtained, I cannot imagine ever believing that the past two months of learning has been worth a £3000 total, and I would challenge you to find a handful of students who feel differently."