Sustaining healthy staying communities in university residential halls amid unprecedented pandemic

Michelle W.T. CHENG*, Man Lai LEUNG, Christina W.M. YU, Kevin K.M. YUE, Elaine S.C. LIU, Samuel K.W. CHU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most teaching and learning or student services in the higher education setting have moved to the digital world. However, university residential halls have continued to provide services as there are students who are unable to go back to their homes/countries because of travel bans or family reasons. This study investigates the perceptions of residents who stayed at university residential halls during the pandemic. In-depth interviews were conducted with 77 staying residents from four public universities in Hong Kong. Through the sharing of their residential experience, it was found that these stayers were impacted greatly by the changes in the residential hall environment, particularly in terms of reduced interaction and emerging disciplinary concerns. Results reveal that stayers had undergone different negative mental states, namely stress, paranoia, loneliness and boredom. After identifying their conditions, some sustainable residential practices were proposed, such as maintaining minimum face-to-face contact for stayers, practicing transparent communication and arranging bulk purchases of living supplies. It is hoped that the results of this study can help to inform readers regarding the possible impacts on the stayers during a partial lockdown environment in university residential halls and how they can be better supported by universities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6176
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: The research described in this article was funded through the Hong Kong Research Grants Council for the “Strengthening the Alignment of Residential Education and University Educational Aims” project. The first author is the recipient of the Research Grants Council Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (PDFS2021-8H01) funded by the University Grants Committee.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Emotional needs
  • Sustainable practices
  • University residential community


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustaining healthy staying communities in university residential halls amid unprecedented pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this