Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Schools, universities & training

How has the Covid-19 crisis affected pre-school childcare?

More than a million 0-4 year olds stopped attending childcare during lockdown. This led to them missing out on social and educational opportunities, parents struggling to balance work and childcare, and financial losses for childcare providers. The prospects for the sector are highly uncertain.

Read more

How can we know which policies to fight Covid-19 actually work?

Policy-makers, scientists and the public are engaged in heated debates about the right responses to Covid-19. In making decisions on such matters as school re-opening or mandatory mask wearing, we need a way to measure both the benefits and the economic and psychological costs.

Read more

How will coronavirus affect the lifetime earnings of new graduates?

Graduating into an economic downturn can have negative consequences for young people in terms of pay and career progression throughout their lives. In response to the Covid-19 recession, many from wealthier backgrounds may opt to stay in education longer, further exacerbating inequality.

Read more

How has lockdown affected children with special educational needs?

Children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly vulnerable to the sweeping changes that have accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular the closure of schools and cutbacks on additional support services during lockdown.

Read more

Should we stop using predicted A-level grades in university applications?

This year’s exam chaos highlights a big issue with predicting A-level results. The evidence suggests that teachers typically over-predict, and some school students’ grades are harder to predict than others. This raises the question of why we continue to base university applications on these predictions.

Read more

Why have this summer’s A-level exam grades caused so much trouble?

Following the cancellation of public exams, Ofqual used an algorithm based on rankings of students within a school, combined with each school’s historic performance, to allocate A-level grades. The resulting outcry led to grades instead being awarded based on school assessments.

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting the mental health of adolescents?

Concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents were growing even before Covid-19 and the recession. Vulnerabilities may be heightened as a consequence of the pandemic, lockdown and widespread uncertainty about the future.

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting the finances of UK universities?

As the Covid-19 crisis progresses, the consequences for the UK’s higher education sector are gradually becoming clearer. All universities face a hit to their finances, but it is mostly institutions with weak pre-crisis finances that are at risk of insolvency.

Read more

What role does emotion play in our responses to coronavirus?

How we feel has a strong influence on what we do – and perhaps even more so during a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic. An understanding of how emotions function is crucial if we are to guide more effective policy-making. In particular, we must stay alert to the dangers of fear.

Read more

How can we tackle widening gaps in literacy skills following coronavirus?

School closures in response to Covid-19 are expected to widen gaps in educational attainment, including literacy, for disadvantaged children. One way to mitigate this risk is through high quality reading programmes. How do schools know which interventions will be most effective?

Read more

How will the pandemic and lockdown affect social mobility?

School closures are particularly damaging for children from already disadvantaged backgrounds; and the recession is likely to hurt young people starting out in the labour market. Widening educational and economic inequalities may increase the divide in life chances between rich and poor.

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting the provision of free school meals?

The pandemic has required school closures across many countries, disrupting the provision of meals for pupils. What are the risks for children – and their families – who lose access to these programmes? And what could policy-makers do to mitigate the risks?

Read more

Will coronavirus worsen the UK's problem with obesity?

Reducing obesity, particularly in children, has been a major aim of governments for many years. It is likely that lockdown in response to the pandemic has been having the opposite effect – making daily life more sedentary, reducing physical activity and increasing food consumption.

Read more

How can we protect young people from being scarred by coronavirus?

Young people suffer negative consequences from recessions – and we expect their experience of the Covid-19 crisis to be no different. The government has a toolkit of policies to protect them from long-lasting ‘scarring’ effects: which measures are most likely to succeed?

Read more

What difference will the COVID Summer Food Fund make to children’s lives?

Following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, the government’s COVID Summer Food Fund will provide food vouchers for children from low-income families who are eligible for free school meals. What are the likely results?

Read more

What future for apprenticeships after coronavirus?

The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic uncertainty are causing interruptions to apprenticeship training. This is putting the future of apprenticeships at risk just at the time when they will be most needed to protect employment and sustain the recovery.

Read more

How can we make up the learning losses from lockdown?

The weeks of missed schooling for the younger generation due to coronavirus would lead to lower growth and greater inequality if left unaddressed. An extensive but time-limited programme of small group tutoring could help to repair some of the educational damage.

Read more

Why should students pay university fees if all lectures are online?

University lectures for large groups are unlikely to be possible in the next academic year. Students should be asking whether the alternative educational model being proposed will be worse, the same or even better than what has been traditionally offered in higher education.

Read more

What are the prospects for young people joining the labour market now?

Evidence from previous economic downturns suggests that young people leaving full-time education in the Covid-19 recession are going to find it much harder to secure employment and even harder to enter well-paid occupations than their immediate predecessors.

Read more

How might the crisis affect children from poorer backgrounds?

Children who grow up in low-income households or whose parents have low levels of education lag behind their peers in progress on maths and reading at school. They also typically have worse behavioural skills. Will the lockdown and the recession make things even worse for them?

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting inequalities across ethnic groups?

There are growing concerns that the UK’s ethnic minorities are suffering disproportionately as a result of the pandemic – in terms of both their higher mortality risks and the worse economic outcomes for some groups.

Read more

When should schools re-open?

Countries in Europe and elsewhere have taken very different strategies to getting children back to school after closures. What are the difficulties in making decisions about re-opening? And why is there so much variation among national approaches?

Read more

How will lockdown and the recession affect children’s health?

The combination of a global health emergency and an economic downturn is unprecedented. But research evidence on the effects of previous crises and other challenging circumstances can shed light on the potential impact of lockdown and the recession on children’s health.

Read more

How will exam disruptions affect young people’s futures?

Coronavirus has led to high-stakes summer examinations being cancelled and the grades replaced by teacher predictions, or administered in a new online format. It is vital to understand the potential impact on the lives of young people affected by these disruptions.

Read more

What will be the impact of lockdown on children’s development?

Education plays a key role in cultivating the cognitive, behavioural and emotional skills that enable children to succeed in life. What are school closures during lockdown likely to mean for the accumulation of these skills among primary and early secondary school age children?

Read more

What is the likely impact of remote learning on educational outcomes?

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, online learning was becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education. Now it is happening in schools during lockdown, what do we know about its impact on students’ performance? And is there a danger it will widen educational inequalities?

Read more

How will lockdown and recession affect the lives of the very young?

It is widely understood that what happens in the early stages of life – from conception to the age of 5 – can have long-lasting effects. How might the experience of lockdown and the Covid-19 recession influence future outcomes for the very young?

Read more

What is the impact of the crisis on UK university finances?

The Covid-19 crisis is causing potentially large-scale financial problems for UK universities. It is likely to result in big changes in the way that the country’s higher education system is structured.

Read more

Funded by

UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
Skip to main content