In the wake of COVID-19, universities and schools of social work face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty in aligning their academic models with public heath protocols and best practices, while prioritizing the safety and well-being of their students. In order to best respond to these challenges and uncertainty, more research is needed to advance a greater understanding of (1) what challenges students face, (2) who is most at risk and impacted by these challenges, and (3) how universities can best support students. Through a survey administered during the spring 2020 semester at a large research university in the Midwest, we explored the attitudes, experiences, and needs of graduate students in social work, public health, and social policy programs. We observed notable disparities by race and ethnicity, international student status, first-generation student status, and gender. Additionally, our survey results suggest that protective factors, such as university and social supports, may inform how students navigate and cope with the challenges related to or exacerbated by the pandemic. In addition to advancing a better understanding of student experiences during COVID-19, our findings build on the previous research that highlights the distinct needs and disparate impacts of vulnerable student populations in higher education.
Jabbari, Jason; Ferris, Dan; Frank, Tyler; and Grinstein-Weiss, Michal, “COVID-19 Educational Inequities: Shining a Light on Disparities in a Graduate School of Social Work” (2020). Social Policy Institute Research. 40.