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An Exploratory Study of the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Lockdown on the Emotional and Social Wellbeing of Students Enrolled at a University of Technology

Nalini Govender
Poovendhree Reddy
Raisuyah Bhagwan


This qualitative descriptive study explored the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown on the emotional and social well-being of  students enrolled at the Durban University of Technology, South Africa. A sample of students was selected across all levels of study (first, second and  third years and postgraduates), using convenience sampling. Data saturation was reached after interviewing the fifteenth participant on Microsoft  Teams. The interview schedule included details on understanding how the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown affected students’ emotional and social  well-being. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to content and thematic analyses. Four broad themes emerged, viz., fears associated  with coronavirus and its transmission; the lockdown experience; personal anxiety and mental health; as well as financial distress. Our study highlights the  potential risks associated with the emotional and mental health status of our cohort in the advent of the COVID-19 lockdowns that characterised the  immediate responses of the South African Government and institutions of higher learning to the pandemic outbreak. These data may assist our  understanding of the possible adverse effects on emotional and social well-being amongst a university population. These are important factors for  higher education institutions to consider in order to provide better mental health support to students.