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Campaigning for the rights of students in the wake of the novel coronavirus travel restrictions

Hannah Buchan, UMSU President
Archit Agrawal, UMSU International President

6 February 2020


UMSU and UMSU International are committed to ensuring that students are not at a disadvantage with their University studies as a result of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions. 

 

At present, the University of Melbourne has not announced a delay to the start of semester meaning that all summer examinations, orientation activities, and the commencement of semester one will go ahead as planned. If the University is considering delaying the start of semester one, they need to provide a deadline for any announcements regarding this, given the scale of the potential impact and the number of students involved. The University also needs to provide clear information about how they will manage the impact of any such delayed commencement, and the adversity faced by affected students.

 

The University is currently communicating directly with students affected by the coronavirus travel restrictions, and have released the following information:
  • Some courses have the option to complete course material online for the first few weeks.
  • Students are able to catch up on work missed in select courses for the first few weeks.

 

Am I eligible?

To find out whether your course falls under these categories, visit https://students.unimelb.edu.au/student-support/coronavirus and click the button which says “Find information for your course”.

Additionally, this resource provides recommended actions that you can take if you are an affected student. This site is updated frequently, and is course-specific, so make to check this regularly to ensure that you are receiving the most up to date information.

 

I am an affected student. Who do I contact?
If you are a student who is affected by the coronavirus or subsequent travel restrictions please contact https://students.unimelb.edu.au/student-support/coronavirus. You can also contact Stop1 for individual advice on your course.

 

Are all courses available online?

Unfortunately, some courses are currently unavailable online, and do not give students the options to catch up. The University recommends that in this case, students should consider a course deferral or a leave of absence.UMSU and UMSU International believe that this is an unfair outcome for these students. A deferral or a leave of absence may delay a student’s graduation, which can result in a significant loss. Additionally, the travel restrictions not only impact education but also impact things such as tenancy. Some students are in contractual arrangements around accommodation, and a travel ban prevents them from fulfilling their contract.

Students come to this University expecting an exceptional education, to feel safe and to feel supported, and the University needs to be acting to ensure that students are not experiencing disadvantage for factors outside of their control.

 

Our call to the University
UMSU and UMSU International call on the University to review each course and provide the same online course material and catch up options to all affected students. We also call on the University to review the fee deadline for the upcoming semester, and to provide more support for students needing to take a leave of absence or a deferral.

 

Accessing free Advocacy and Legal services

It is possible that that ban will be prolonged, and we are aware of the stress and uncertainty being experienced by students caught up in the travel ban. Both UMSU Advocacy and Legal Services will be here to support any students facing disadvantage as the situation evolves.If you have current and active issues which are affecting your ability to study, please contact the UMSU Advocacy service. UMSU Advocacy is a free service and can help you with any ongoing issues.

 

Additional support

The virus has caused many people to experience racism, hostility and discriminatory behaviour. UMSU and UMSU International will always stand against all forms of racism and will fight against bigotry in our community. If you or someone you know has experienced an increase in hostility, online and in-person, since the coronavirus outbreak began, you may wish to discuss issues around discrimination. You can contact the UMSU Advocacy service for a full range of advice about your options.

The following University services can also provide confidential support:

  • Student Equity and Disability support provide services for students who need ongoing support with their studies. We understand that adjustments to learning and assessment are sometimes required to allow all students to reach their full potential.
  • Counselling and Psychological Services provide free, confidential, short-term professional counselling to currently enrolled students and staff.
Additional external help and information:



UMSU believe that no students should bear the burden of the Australian government’s approach. The University needs to be taking steps to mitigate losses felt as a result of the travel restrictions.