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FEUC assesses socio-economic vulnerability of its students and families in the context of the pandemic

A significant number of students from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra (FEUC) are in a situation of economic vulnerability due to the pandemic of COVID-19, reveal the first results of a study carried out by two researchers from this faculty.

This study, with the participation of 440 undergraduate and master students from the various courses taught at FEUC (Economics, Management, Sociology and International Relations), aims to assess the «economic vulnerability of the families of students at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how students are adapting to the context, namely understanding how they perceive the transition to a distance learning regime in view of the assessment they make of their study conditions in their family homes», explain the authors, Rita Martins and Patrícia Moura e Sá.

«Although for the moment the number of unemployment cases directly attributable to COVID-19 is quite small, it appears that 15.5% of households have at least one member with suspended activity and that there are 19.3% of families with at least least one member in lay-off. Taking into account the corresponding reduction in income and the risk of future unemployment, it can be said that a significant proportion of students are, at least circumstantially, in a situation of economic vulnerability», clarify the CeBER researchers (Center for Business and Economics Research) of FEUC.

With regard to the consequences on academic life, according to the study, practically three quarters of the participants consider that they are less able to achieve academic success. Among the constraints pointed out, we highlight the understanding of the subjects taught at a distance (43%) and the conditions in terms
of physical space to work with some peace (26%).

However, only 5% of respondents consider the possibility of interrupting their studies as very likely, while about 20% consider the possibility of prolonging their studies and entering the job market very likely later.

International mobility decisions appear to have been severely affected – one third believe they will not be able to implement it next year, and among those who intended to do so in the future, 43% indicate that the likelihood of doing so has been affected. by the pandemic.

For the director of the Faculty of Economics, Álvaro Garrido, this study allows «to obtain very relevant information for a diagnosis of the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 in the approximately three thousand FEUC students. This monitoring, almost a social X-ray, is essential to know our reality and to be able to support students. Intuitively, or impressively, we know that many students are experiencing difficult situations and that inequalities have worsened with the pandemic. These impacts are dynamic and almost silent, which is why it is important to know the data and identify patterns».

«With the support of the UC and the Social Action Services of the University of Coimbra (SASUC), FEUC will encourage the deepening of this study and promote other diagnoses of self-knowledge», he concludes.

Data collection took place between April 24 and May 13 through a survey of students enrolled in 2019/2020 at the Faculty of Economics of UC. Regarding the area of ​​residence, 55% of respondents live outside the district of Coimbra and 32% in the municipality of Coimbra.

Within the scope of the measures to be taken to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19, 74% of students who support income charges to live in Coimbra during the school period, at the time of the survey, stated that they continue to bear accommodation expenses despite the activity classroom has been totally suspended.

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