Making the most of it: West Norfolk students tell of university life with coronavirus
The move away from home to university is a big step for most students and even more so during a global pandemic.
But, while many institutions have faced criticism for their handling of the coronavirus crisis, two students from West Norfolk say they are still making the most of it, despite their own battles with the infection.
Will Coase and Sammy Leet were head boy and head girl at Lynn's Springwood High School, before starting their higher education programmes last month.
Will swapped West Norfolk for the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), where he tested positive for coronavirus and spent two weeks in self-isolation.
He said: "The university has been really good, it’s basically 80 per cent online at the moment. At one point the uni had a quarter of the students in isolation so it’s been a bit difficult.
“I joked that I would get better from Covid and they would shut the pubs - and now they have so that’s not so great."
Meanwhile, Sammy, who is reading psychology at the University of Warwick, is currently in isolation as she recovers from the virus.
But she praised the institution for their handling of the outbreak.
She said: "As soon as I showed symptoms the university moved me to an en suite hotel room with a hot food delivery to my room three times a day to help me recover.
"They also immediately put my flat into isolation from the rest of the university.”
She added: “I’ve already made what I think will be lifelong friendships with my flat mates and as a result, my mental and physical health has never been better.
"The impact of Coronavirus has, for obvious reasons, been detrimental to the typical university experience.
"But I think there’s a lot of positives that need acknowledgment too. I personally really get on with having my lectures online."
LIPA was co-founded by the legendary musician Sir Paul McCartney in 1996 and its links to the music business made it a "no-brainer" for Will to head there to pursue his career ambitions, following the support shown at Springwood.
He said: “School was very supportive with my decisions, they were always happy for me to go off to auditions and took an interest in how things were going.
“Previously I’d been a much smaller school but I found the staff here were always approachable and had time for you.
“Once I came to Liverpool, that was it. It has great facilities, the industry connections are amazing, and it gives you a world class education.
“A lot of the success that happens at Springwood is down to the appreciation that staff and pupils have for one another,” he said. “The facilities are great too, so together they really give you a desire to work hard.”
Sammy added: “Although University during a pandemic wasn’t the experience I had in mind when I applied, it has been such a positive experience for me.
"I get to study the subject I love and live independently."