What does a student bubble look like? Understanding students’ lived experience in a public health emergency
Publish Date: Friday, 17 December 2021

Campbell B Macgregor, Alison Stewart, Karen Harvey, Pavitra Dhamija, Mary Cooper.



"With New Zealand’s first case of COVID-19 on 26 February 2020, our government and organisations were forced to respond rapidly. Everyone in the country, including more than 390,000 tertiary students, had to apply the public health directives to their own home environments and cope as best they could with the unprecedented limitations to contact, movement and daily activities. A growing number of studies are beginning to supply a picture of what this meant for households and what their ‘bubbles’ looked like. What has not so far been investigated is what a student bubble looked like - that is, where students share accommodation with other students, and not family members or friends/flatmates who are not studying themselves. The study described in this paper includes responses from 2125 students across New Zealand via an online survey. When compared to household bubbles in general, student bubbles were found to have more members but fewer essential workers. There were also variations between domestic and international student bubbles, according to age and ethnicity. It is hoped that understanding the characteristics of student bubbles will assist New Zealand institutes to finetune responses to any return to Alert Levels 3 or 4, should this be necessary. The study also identifies where further research into students’ experiences and responses is needed."


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