Students are most looking forward to making new friends at university this year, despite the traditional Freshers’ Week experience being impacted by COVID-19. According to a new study conducted by Endsleigh, meeting new people was the thing students were most looking forward to about their university experience (34%), closely followed by preparing for their future career (32%) and learning new skills (18%).

As universities prepare to move teaching and Freshers’ events online as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are feeling apprehensive about how this will compare to previous years. Of the 201 students polled, 41% felt negatively about Freshers’ events taking place online and 71% felt that this year’s Freshers’ Week experience will be worse than previous years.

However, with recent UCAS data showing that fewer students have deferred than expected – with a slight 1.2% increase in year-on-year confirmations for an immediate university start in Autumn 2020 – this suggests students are still keen to start their education and see this as an opportunity to engage with new people.

Participants in the poll voiced concerns for the new approach to Freshers’ Events but were still excited about the social aspect of university, potentially seeing it as a welcome relief after months of lockdown. Comments included:

“I’m apprehensive about being able to make friends if most events are online but I’m still hoping to get a good experience and just want to make the most of it!”
“A digital Freshers’ Week will not be the same experience, but it will still be a good opportunity to meet new people and start university.”
“It won’t be the same online but it’s the best we can have at the moment and it’s better than deferring.”
“I’m not too disappointed about Freshers’ being online, because I will still get to meet lots of new people from halls and might even make closer friends as a result.”

To help new students make the most of their university experience, Endsleigh have created the What Type of Fresher Are You? quiz. This personality quiz aims to help students discover their Fresher identity and suggests ways they can make friends around campus this year.

These types of guides can be extremely valuable for new students, with 23% of students polled stating that online guides have influenced their understanding of Freshers’ Week the most, with social media (23%) having the same level of influence. The biggest influencing factor on students’ understanding of Freshers’ Week was their friends (43%).

With around half (47%) of polled students saying they rate their preparation level for university at a 5 out of 10 or less, it’s key that universities clearly communicate with students about how Freshers’ events, lectures and seminars will be held this year. With the right guidance and support, Freshers can still enjoy a great university experience despite the impacts of COVID.

One student commented: “Freshers’ is either the best or worst thing you can experience. If the universities are able to regain control of Freshers’ and actually make them worth attending (regardless of the pandemic), they would be a lot safer and a lot more fun.”

Survey findings:
What are students most looking forward to about university?
• Meeting new people – 34%
• Preparing for my future career – 32%
• Learning new skills – 18%
• Gaining independence – 14%
• Other – 2%

How are students feeling about Freshers’ Week events taking place online this year?
• Very positive – 7%
• Positive – 23%
• Neutral – 30%
• Negative – 35%
• Very negative – 5%

How do students feel their Freshers’ Week experience will compare to students from previous years?
• Significantly better – 2%
• Moderately better – 11%
• About the same – 17%
• Moderately worse – 45%
• Significantly worse – 25%

What has influenced students’ understanding of Freshers’ Week the most?
• Friends – 43%
• Online guides – 23%
• Social media – 23%
• Family – 7%
• News reports – 2%
• Other – 2%

The survey findings from Endsleigh found that despite concerns that COVID-19 would impact the Freshers’ Week experience, friendships are still a key influence in students’ understanding of Freshers’ and their excitement to start university life.

About Endsleigh Insurance Services
A leading insurance broker for the education sector, Endsleigh Insurance Services provide expert and affordable cover for students, alumni and education professionals across the UK.
Established in 1965 by NUS to champion affordable insurance for students, when others wouldn’t. They use their expertise and dedication to provide value for money for their customers, and have extended their products and services to professionals as well as commercial and business customers, aligning their solutions to core markets of education, property, travel and not-for-profit. Find out more at

Contact details: Naomi Soanes
Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited
+44 (0)1242 866458
Endsleigh Insurance Ltd
Shurdington Road, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucestershire GL51 4UE

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