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How are international students coping with COVID-19?

  • Date

    Thu 28 May 20

social distancing cartoon

Psychologists at Essex are hoping to find out how international students and migrants living in the UK are coping with COVID-19 and whether having links to more than one culture can make them more resilient.

The study, led by postgraduate student Benedict Hignell and Dr Nicolas Geeraert, is examining the effects of COVID-19, and the associated social distancing measures, on the cultural identity and general well-being of first, second and third generation migrants to the UK.

Benedict explained: “Previous research has found that migrants who strongly identify with more than one culture tend to experience the best outcomes for their wellbeing. This is thought to be primarily because they tend to have support networks in both cultures.

 “During this period of social distancing our interactions have become mostly virtual rather than face-to-face which has limited who we can speak to and how we can emotionally support and care for each other.

“We are investigating whether those with stronger support networks during this pandemic are most resilient to its related stresses and if it matters whether this support is physically face-to-face or via virtual platforms.”

The researchers want to hear from anyone living in the UK whose parents, grandparents or they themselves moved here. In a series of three short surveys they will be asked about their cultural background, British culture, their health and well-being, how threatened they feel by COVID-19 and how they communicate with others.

The research could help groups who provide support for isolated or vulnerable people to decide whether the benefits to psychological well-being outweigh the risks of spreading the virus to others by meeting up. It could also help them decide how to split their time between physical visits and virtual communication so they can help more people more effectively.