Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music
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How have the students been coping with the coronavirus pandemic?

Norway’s largest survey on the health and wellbeing of students shows that half of them are experiencing psychological distress. Although the students at the Norwegian Academy of Music are doing a bit better than the average for Norway as a whole, the survey reveals that 2020-2021 has been a difficult period.

The finances, wellbeing, and physical and mental health of students have suffered during the pandemic. A higher percentage of students at the NMH than in Norway as a whole report that the coronavirus pandemic has had a detrimental effect on their finances. A total of 61 per cent of the students at the NMH have found that their financial situation has become somewhat or much worse. The percentage for the rest of the country is 43.

As expected in a locked-down city, the students are extremely dissatisfied with the cultural activities and social life available, but the students at the NMH are slightly more satisfied with their studies than the average among the students in Norway. This might be because the NMH has been open for practising and for one-to-one instruction during most of the pandemic period. The survey also shows that NMH students have had nearly four times as much instruction on campus than the average for Norwegian students.

“The results confirm that it was important to give students access to the campus during the pandemic, even with stringent restrictions. Without access to practice rooms and individual instruction, many of our students would be struggling even more to stay motivated,” says Principal Peter Tornquist.

“The results confirm that it was important to give students access to the campus during the pandemic, even with stringent restrictions.”

Peter Tornquist, Principal

Wellbeing several notches lower

Even so, all the rankings for wellbeing are at a lower level than in 2018, and this is the case throughout the country. When we compare the numbers with the previous survey in 2018, 12 per cent fewer state that their quality of life is good or extremely good. Generally, the score has dropped between 10 and 20 per cent with regard to instruction, the student’s own effort, guidance and the physical learning environment.

Increase in severe psychological distress

In 2018, the responses showed that 23 per cent of the students at the NMH struggled with severe psychological distress. This year, the percentage has more than doubled to reach 53 per cent. This is a greater increase than the percentages for the country as a whole, which were respectively 34 (2018) and 45 (2021) per cent. As many as 21 per cent of NMH students who responded to the survey reported that they are considering taking their own lives. One bright spot is that it seems that students at the NMH are seeking help for their psychological distress to a greater degree than others. The survey indicates that 34 per cent of NMH students have sought help, in contrast to 19 per cent in the rest of the country.

“We are pleased to have arranged a low-threshold conversation service for those who need someone to talk to. The survey shows that there will be a need to continue this service in some form even when the pandemic is over,” says Tornquist.

Online instruction

The students at the NMH are more dissatisfied with online instruction than the average students. Altogether 91 per cent think that online instruction functions more poorly or much more poorly than physical instruction. The average for the country is 71 per cent. Nevertheless, NMH students are more satisfied with the instructors’ technological expertise than students in the rest of the country. The most important reason for the view of NMH students that online instruction functions more poorly is that they miss having contact with fellow students and subject teachers. Teacher-student contact at the NMH is strong, and this is evident when 76 per cent of students state that contact with their subject teacher is the greatest challenge they face in online instruction. In comparison, 56 per cent take this view in the rest of the country.

“We have a job to do in following up the findings of the survey. Although online instruction will not be replacing physical instruction, we must also consider the positive experiences we have had in the past year and assess how these can help make the education we offer even better,” Peter Tornquist says.

A total of 76 per cent find that contact with their subject teacher is the greatest challenge they face in online instruction.

Results from the SHoT survey

Facts about the survey

SHoT is a country-wide survey that will elicit new knowledge about how Norwegian students are doing. SHoT is carried out every fourth year, most recently in 2018. This year a supplementary survey was carried out because of the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 181 828 full-time students were invited to respond to the questionnaire, and 62 498 did so. This gives a response percentage of 34.4. With over 62 000 responses, this is Norway’s largest survey of student health.

The survey was carried out by the student unions in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

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