The coronavirus pandemic is causing major disruption and concern across the globe. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the way people can work and on the risks they face in their new circumstances. It is an extremely worrying time for many people, including students. As university terms have begun, many universities have been hit with localised outbreaks. This has meant some students have been locked down in halls and others have learned that their lessons will be online only for the foreseeable future.

Universities have a legal duty of care to take all steps which are reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety, including personal safety, of their staff and students, a duty they must take particularly seriously in light of the adjustments that have been necessary to the way we all live and work during this time. Many universities have taken extraordinary measures to show their commitment to doing all they can to support students at this difficult time.

As many students are now isolated away from friends and family as well as university staff, universities may wish to reflect on new risks that students will be exposed to aside from Covid-19, both within and outside of the student accommodation. Such students are in many ways similar to lone workers, lone learners if you will. For this reason our guidance for lone workers may be useful. For advice for students on how to enjoy their new surroundings safely, please see our tips, these include advice on accommodation, safety when out and about and travel. 

In our podcast featuring Dr Claire Lawrence, Associate Professor in Psychology at Nottingham University, we discuss the psychology of violence and aggression in the context of the workplace and the Covid-19 pandemic. This podcast is also relevant to students who are adjusting to a new way of life. Claire highlights some useful tips for staying safe at this time including increased awareness of our own body language, and appreciation for how everyone is trying to keep themselves and their family safe, although their actions may differ to our own. Many students will be feeling under extra pressure and stress as their university experience is not the one they pictured, and this may impact their mental health and wellbeing.

We are developing ways we can work with universities to develop personal safety support packages focused on first year university students as well as preparing students for the workplace. Creating a culture of personal safety is one way to reassure students that their wellbeing matters.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust hopes to support universities with training and consultancy to ensure their students have the tools and understanding in place to stay safe at university and later in their working life.