Deakin students and staff embrace online transition

Media release
08 April 2020

Statement from Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge and test us all, our students and staff have overwhelmingly embraced the rapid transition to online study and working from home. It is not all smooth sailing, but with our digital pedigree and an already thriving Cloud Campus, we were able to make a reasonably seamless shift to fully online study. We will continue to support our students and staff through the difficult months ahead.

From the outset, we have case managed our response to COVID-19, providing our people as much flexibility as possible in the circumstances while preserving the quality and integrity of our operations and educational offerings. As for all universities, the full magnitude of the financial impact on Deakin remains unclear and will depend on our T1 outcomes and for how long social distancing restrictions remain in place.

To inform our community I am in contact with students and staff weekly, through email and short videos. Our extensive library of FAQs continues to be updated daily.

  • Financial and hardship assistance: Many of our students have lost their part-time and casual jobs as a result of COVID-19. We are working one-to-one with students who are experiencing financial hardship to ease the burden. We are providing rapid assistance to students in financial distress by individually tailoring our range of support services to help keep studies on-track. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Deakin has received more than 1500 applications from students for immediate financial and hardship support. So far 730 applications have been assessed and approved, with the remaining to be processed next week. As part of our response, a Student Emergency Assistance Fund has been established and a number of generous philanthropic contributions have supported additional emergency grants to students.
  • Flexibility: The Census date for T1 and S1 was Tuesday 31 March 2020. We have put in place a further two-week grace period from the Census date for students to change their enrolment or withdraw from their course without incurring any academic or financial penalty. The extension period for assignment due dates has been extended to up to three weeks, and a medical certificate is no longer required. We've also made it easier for students to apply for special consideration. The T1 exam period will continue as planned with online assessments. We want to encourage and support as many international students to continue their studies at Deakin as possible and indeed, this week, more than 95 per cent remain enrolled. However, we understand that some international students will decide to return home and we will support their decision and help with either a transition to online study or by holding their place for the future.
  • Campus access: Parts of our campuses remain open for students and staff who require access to a computer and internet connection. Social distancing is being strictly enforced.
  • Self-care: Students and staff are understandably experiencing feelings of uncertainty and worry about how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact their lives and loved ones. We have developed a guide about looking after mental health, including strategies for managing feelings. If students and staff experience a higher level of distress, counselling and psychological consultations are available.

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