In summary

  • A Swinburne survey has found the pandemic is changing what students want to study and their attitude towards university
  • One-third of Year 12 students say COVID-19 has increased their interest in health sciences and science-based courses, and away from lockdown-affected disciplines like hospitality
  • Swinburne’s virtual Open Day experience, Swintopia, is helping students make informed decisions about their future study pathways 

A new survey by Swinburne University of Technology shows how COVID-19 has shaped Victorian students’ priorities and concerns, as many prepare to consider their plans for university. 

A poll of Year 12 and first-year university students – dubbed “lockdown learners” – reveals the pandemic has changed what students want to study and their attitude towards university. It comes at a time traditionally dedicated to open days held at universities.

How students are feeling about uni 

Almost half of Year 12 students (47 per cent) say the pandemic has changed their views on enrolling in university in various ways. Some are more interested in enrolling in university right now rather than later because lockdowns have put their gap year plans on hold. Yet others cite concern over finances and final marks achieved in Year 12 as barriers to further study. 

The survey also found: 

  • One-third of Year 12 students say COVID-19 has increased their interest in health sciences and science-based courses, and away from lockdown-affected disciplines like hospitality
  • One-third of first-year university students said they are more worried about being able to get a job after university since the pandemic
  • Three-quarters of Year 12 students believe studying at university will make them more employable 
  • Half of Year 12 students felt studying at university would lead to greater financial security in the future.

The survey also shows 58 per cent of prospective university students rely on digital information just as much as physical open days to decide where to study.

Swinburne’s virtual Open Day experience 

Swinburne’s plans to hold an on-campus Open Day have been disrupted by the latest Victorian lockdown restrictions. However, the university is ready to connect with thousands of students through its award-winning virtual Open Day experience, Swintopia – a gamified and immersive campus experience. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global and Community Engagement), Dr Andrew J Smith, said Swintopia had been upgraded this year to take the open day experience to a new level and respond to student needs.

‘Swintopia allows students to plan their future pathways by giving them an interactive taste of all aspects of university and campus life. Students can explore campuses, collect course information, meet other students and teachers, and make an informed decision about their future studies,’ Dr Smith said.

‘Prospective students can also find out about Swinburne’s new Work Integrated Learning guarantee, which is really important at a time when so many young people are concerned about their employability. We are committed to making sure that every undergraduate student gets an internship, placement or opportunity to work with industry on a project,’ he said. 

Swinburne's gamified Open Day experience, Swintopia, gives students the chance to explore the campus anywhere, anytime.

The survey also found 78 per cent of first-year students would like to have guaranteed work after study.

Lily Straker, a Year 12 Victorian student, said the university’s Work Integrated Learning guarantee was a major attraction to study at Swinburne.

‘The pandemic has definitely made me think about life after university and picking the right career that will lead to employment and financial security. Having a guaranteed opportunity to work with an employer as part of my course is a huge attraction in the current environment,’ Miss Straker said. 

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