The Graduate Student Council conducted a survey focusing on the effect that COVID-19 has had on graduate students at UMKC.
In the survey, graduate students were asked to describe how the pandemic has affected their lives and their department, and what they think could be done to address the problems.
“We were initially very worried that the pandemic might have drastic impacts on our graduate community,” a representative of Graduate Student Council said in a statement to UNews. “We took the survey to make sure that we are well-informed on what students are experiencing.”
The council sorted the challenges graduate students faced into seven categories, based on the 74 full responses to the survey. Those categories include: mental, academic, departmental, university resource, professional, personal and financial challenges.
Academic challenges ranged from difficulty completing research online to not having the same level of access to technology on campus to lack of childcare.
“Clinical opportunities which were scarce before are non-existent,” an anonymous respondent said. “My current position has had increased demands as a public health official which has made it harder to complete school work. Lack of childcare has resulted in disruption in time and ability to perform essential job and school functions.”
Other students described losing both on and off-campus jobs and opportunities due to the pandemic. Job loss caused strain on many graduate students and led to physical and mental health problems.
“I have no work. I have no work study. I have no teaching. I have no way of physically networking to get more work. I have no family,” another respondent said. “I have had massive truck breakdowns, health issues and the social isolation is taking its toll on my endurance. I have no friends.”
In addition to asking students to describe the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it also asked students to state what they thought could help address the problems.
Among the proposed ideas were online school workshops, expanded career services, increasing financial aid amounts and accessibility and reducing tuition and student fees.
The council noted that the survey is not meant to undermine any efforts UMKC made to respond to the pandemic.
“I really hope that this survey, even if it narrates a difficult part of the UMKC student’s experience, will inform all UMKC family on the need to improve our graduate student’s experiences,” the representative of the Graduate Student Council said. “I know that we are all trying hard to do so, but we should move faster in this route.”