Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on life and learning experiences of indigenous and non-Indigenous university and college students in Ontario, Canada: a qualitative study

The Cost of COVID is a mixed methods study exploring the social and emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on families, youth, and urban Indigenous People. The present analysis was completed using a subset of qualitative data including micronarrative stories from students in college and university, as well as in-depth interviews from service providers providing services to students.

Twenty-six micronarratives and seven in-depth interviews were identified that were specifically relevant to the post-secondary student experience. From this data, five prominent themes arose. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of technology was important to the post secondary experience. The pandemic has substantial educational impact on students, in what they chose to learn, how it was taught, and experiences to which they were exposed. Health and wellbeing, physical, psychological and emotional, were impacted. Significant impacts were felt on family, community, and connectedness aspects. Finally, the pandemic had important financial impacts on students which affected their learning and their experience of the pandemic. Impacts did differ for Indigenous students, with many of the traditional cultural supports and benefits of spaces of higher education no longer being available.

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