‘Kind of normal until Covid’ - Horsham student tells of uni life during the pandemic

As children go back to school this week after lockdown, spare a thought for others also facing an uneasy return to studies away from home.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:52 pm

While life has been far from normal for school pupils during the past year, it has also been challenging for older students.

Among them is Oliver Thorne who has been studying on-line at his Horsham home for the past few months but is due to return soon to Nottingham University. Oliver, who is in his first year studying physics and theoretical astrophysics, said his first semester was ‘kind of normal’ - although freshers’ week was cancelled - until a number of students caught Covid-19

“Lots of people started isolating and we only had face-to-face teaching once a fortnight.”

Oliver Thorne has been studying at home because he couldn't return to campus because of Covid. Pic Steve Robards SR2103092 SUS-210903-141250001

Oliver and fellow students, a group of 12 living in halls of residence, were advised not to mingle with others outside their ‘household.’

“It was quite restrictive,” said Oliver’s dad Barrie.

And the lack of socialising meant the students could not gain the full experience of university life.

Oliver himself is a keen guitarist and table tennis player - he is a member of Horsham Spinners and has played for Sussex.

Barrie and Linda Thorne and their son Oliver who has been studying at home because he couldn't return to campus because of Covid. Pic Steve Robards SR2103092 SUS-210903-141106001

”I am planning to get into the university table tennis team. There was going to be a second trial in January but they had to cancel it.”

Oliver returned home to Horsham in the second week of December and quickly adapted to on-line tuition from his bedroom. “We had group sessions on screen and one-to-ones,” he said.

But he’s now looking forward to returning to Nottingham next week as his course requires an element of lab work. And he’s looking forward to new accommodation, sharing a house with fellow students.

“I don’t feel I’ve missed out on anything with my tuition,” said Oliver. “It’s the other things.”

And his dad Barrie and mum Linda agree. But, said Linda, “as a mother I was aware of things like the end of year proms, parties and sports participation. “Oliver’s education has not really been lacking, it’s the extra curricular activities that haven’t been taking place.”