Sunday, 3 March 2024
Sunday, 3 March 2024

Devasting impact of COVID-19 on young adults and students

On 23 March, the UK will commemorate the anniversary of the first lockdown. In the past year, young adults have suffered far more from anxiety and loneliness than the general population. Faced with isolation at university and gloomy prospects on the job market, the well-being of students, in particular, has taken a hit.

NimbleFins has analysed the Student COVID-19 Insights Survey (SCIS) and the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (COVID-19 module) to explore the impacts of the pandemic on young adults and students in the UK. Here are some key takeaways:

Young adults are more anxious and less happy and satisfied than other age groups.

  • 16-29-year-olds scored the worst in the overall well-being metrics in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (ONS).
  • 71% of 16-29-year-olds are worried about the effect of COVID on their lives. That’s the highest of all age groups. 
  • 3 out of 4 young adults feel affected by the lack of freedom and independence during COVID, and nearly as many have experienced a negative impact on their well-being. 
  • Boredom, loneliness, anxiety and stress are much more common among 16-29-year-olds when compared to all adults, with experience rates of 71% vs 53%, respectively.
  • Nearly half (44%) of adults aged 16 to 29 have experienced a negative impact on relationships, compared to roughly a quarter (28%) of all adults.

Devasting impact of COVID-19 on young adults and students

Students are around 4X as likely to always or often feel lonely compared to most adults.

  • 63% of students feel ‘slightly/much worse now’ than at the beginning of the school year. Among students who have changed address since the start of term, the figure jumps to 71%.
  • One third (33%) of students have often or always felt lonely, compared to 12% of all adults in the same age bracket and 8% of the general population. 
  • Only 11% of students have ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ felt lonely during COVID, compared to almost half (47%) of the general population.
  • Returning undergraduates have a worse view of the situation than first-year undergraduates.
  • COVID has left 57% of higher education students feeling ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their social experiences at uni.

The COVID affected job market has been exceptionally challenging for students and grads

  • The number of job vacancies has plummeted 26% in the UK by Nov-Jan 2021 when compared to a year earlier, pre-coronavirus.
  • The drop in job vacancies due to COVID-19 has been significantly sharper and more pronounced than during the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Students often rely on jobs in accommodation & food services to earn extra money and support themselves. Due to lockdowns, vacancies in this sector have seen the most dramatic plunge.
  • Grads in the fields of arts, entertainment & recreation have perhaps been the worst off, as vacancies in the sector dropped to almost non-existent levels during the summer of 2020. 


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