Covid Health Crisis: Student support systems

For students
On the  January 25, 2021
The current health crisis has undoubtedly disrupted students' study and living conditions. Université Grenoble Alpes considers this one of its top priorities, working hard to improve the quality of life of its students, especially those most vulnerable. Existing support systems have been enhanced as, beyond the health crisis, the fight against student insecurity remains a major concern for the university.
To better understand the living and study situation of our students, the university carried out two surveys in the spring and at the end of 2020. The data collected and analyzed made it possible to adapt the systems and quickly identify the most precarious situations.

In particular, the assistance offered includes social aid and solidarity actions to fight the economic insecurity of students, support for studies and computer equipment, health support and initiatives to maintain and create links between students and with university staff.

Social assistance

Université Grenoble Alpes and the Crous Grenoble Alpes have pooled their strengths in the Crous Grenoble Alpes social service. The social service agents listen to students and provide support for those who encounter personal and financial difficulties. They promote access to rights for students in precarious situations who can benefit from food and/or financial aid, and provide follow-up and social support, for example in the event of family difficulties, to ensure their success in their university career.

For this academic year, two additional social workers have been assigned to the social service of the Crous Grenoble Alpes (including a position financed by UGA) in order to help students during this particular period which accentuates the difficulties of the most precarious.

Lastly, UGA allocated nearly €400,000 in additional funding to reinforce social assistance for students in precarious situations, bringing the total budget to €600,000.

To fight against social isolation, the Crous Grenoble Alpes has set up "solidarity residence referents" in university residences. The on-site referent is in charge of visiting each young person to see if they need anything, direct them to a social worker if necessary, and set up activities. He or she is a link between the residents, the health centers and the social services.

Food support

The Agoraé is a social and solidarity grocery store. On the Grenoble campus, Interasso Grenoble Alpes, in partnership with the Crous Grenoble Alpes and with the support of UGA, opened the doors of the new Agoraé in January 2020.
Also, since the start of the school year in September, students on social scholarships can benefit from two meals at €1 a day. At the end of January, this rate was extended to all students, whether or not they have a scholarship.

The Crous Grenoble Alpes has also adapted its catering offer and now offers takeaway lunches at all its sites. In Grenoble, it has redeployed several of its "foodtrucks" in front of the Berlioz, Olympique and du Rabot university residences to be closer to students. During the lockdown, as most of its food sites closed in the evening, it offered the possibility for the students covered by the program to take two meals at €1 each day.

All student jobs maintained at UGA

With the health crisis and the transition of activities to distance learning, many missions usually entrusted to students were no longer necessary. However, UGA chose to maintain all its student jobs in order to guarantee remuneration for students who were already badly affected.

Digital divide 

As soon as the spring was over, Université Grenoble Alpes quickly set to work to help students with material difficulties to follow their distance learning courses. Shelves, computers, and 4G keys are loaned to students who cannot afford to study in good conditions.
Université Grenoble Alpes and the Crous also provide students with work and computer rooms with Wifi connection.

The university libraries have adapted their services to continue to support students: a drive-in for borrowing books, access to work rooms upon reservation, remote workshops, etc.

Health and well-being

Throughout the health crisis, health centers were called upon to welcome students, especially those who remained isolated in university residences. Within the university health centers, students can benefit from free reception and nursing care, medical consultations with general practitioners or specialists.

The Grenoble Health Center has strengthened its psychological support system, including the recruitment of an English-speaking psychologist for international students.

In September 2020, a Covid 19 screening center relocated from the Grenoble Alpes University Hospital Center (CHUGA) opened in the heart of the Saint-Martin-d'Hères campus for university students and staff. It operated until the end of January. Since, the partnership between the CHUGA and UGA remains, with a special agenda reserved for students and staff to get an appointment for screening at the CHUGA.

Faced with the social isolation and psychological distress of some students, the student associations, supported by UGA and the Crous, have come together to create Alpaline, a telephone hotline for and by students and to fight against the distress exacerbated by the period of health crisis.

At the end of January 2021, UGA set up activities and workshops in small groups of less than 10 people to fight against isolation. Sports and artistic workshops to air out the body and mind!

Understanding the needs of students

Since the beginning of the health crisis, two surveys have been carried out to find out the living conditions of students during this unprecedented period, the first in the spring, the second during the second lockdown. The data from these surveys have made it possible to implement new actions to support students.
See the results of the surveys.

The Outstanding Awards - Covid19 launched by UGA Foundation

Lastly, to support and enhance the value of student associations that have worked since the first lockdown in the spring of 2020 to improve student living conditions, UGA and its foundation are launching the Exceptional Awards - Covid19. These prizes are accompanied by a grant of €2,000 to €5,000 per winning association and will help to highlight these initiatives and encourage their dissemination.
Published on  February 10, 2021
Updated on February 11, 2021