“Despite the fact that some of us are maybe on reduced contracts, we’re working harder now than I think we were before the department was touted for closing,” said Patrick Murphy, known to his students as Paddy, a reader in inorganic chemistry.
Martina Lahmann, another senior lecturer, expressed the difficulty she faced moving her lab to a different floor, but added that she was grateful it was open at all, considering the pandemic. Every member of the chemistry staff had a story about the complications caused by the pandemic. All commented on the difficulty of getting feedback and adapting learning materials to the online format.
“Then, with the reduced staff, I think that was a bit tough. It was really tough because I had to do completely new courses, and then suddenly move them over to blended learning. It’s like double work,” said Lahmann.
John Prabhakar described the stress on students: “I’ve only been able to talk to a small cohort of them face-to-face, because they are my project students and I see them in the lab, and I live in Bangor so I see some others on the street and stop for a quick chat to see if they’re ok. I can see- they do feel the pressure.”
The Chair of Bangor Chem Soc, Alexandra Thomas, expressed gratitude for their efforts, but feels they’ve been dealt an unwinnable hand: “It’s been interesting because we’ve lost many staff on the way, most of which… obviously they’re specialists in their field, so their area of teaching has had to be taught by someone who has dabbled in that area, but doesn’t know as much…
“Obviously our staff are trying, and we’re thankful for that, but we feel like we’re not getting the best from our degree.”
Lucy Fitzgerald, another student representative, agrees: “We were promised quality, and that the quality would continue, but it hasn’t.
“Not at fault of the staff, I want to say. The staff, our lecturers, are amazing, they’ve been amazing. It’s not them, it is just the main university.”
Fitzgerald is currently debating whether it’s worth staying on for a master’s degree next year, while Hutchinson, alongside many others, have dropped theirs or plan to move to a different university. However, she gave high praise to the Student’s Union for the support they have provided students in the department, especially when support from the university feels to be at an all time low for many.