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UMSU Supports the NTEU National Day of Action – 15 May 2020

Noni Bridger, UMSU Education Public Affairs Officer.
Charlie Joyce, UMSU Education Public Affairs Officer. 
Hannah Buchan, UMSU President

 

At the last meeting of UMSU Students Council, a motion was passed to endorse the NTEU’s National Day of Action to Save Higher Ed Jobs and support the public and online actions that will be taken by the NTEU during the NDA. UMSU reaffirms its commitment to supporting the campaigns of the NTEU, especially those undertaken by the University of Melbourne NTEU branch. UMSU has been lucky to enjoy a close working relationship with the NTEU at the University of Melbourne, and fully endorses the union’s campaign to extend Jobkeeper to currently excluded uni staff, support higher degree research students with universal extensions, and calls on the government to fund the $5 billion shortfall in higher education funding. The motion also calls for the establishment of a joint action in the form of a University Assembly of all staff and students at the University of Melbourne. UMSU will work with the University of Melbourne NTEU on developing this University Assembly and create a joint campaign combining staff and student demands. 

On 1 May, the University of Melbourne NTEU branch passed a motion stating they would not accept any cuts to wages or conditions on campus and, in the event that staff are asked to vote again on the terms of their enterprise bargaining agreement, to launch a ‘Vote No’ campaign. UMSU is resolved to support democratic and grassroots decision making of the NTEU on our campus and believe that members are best placed to make decisions about their contracts and should be supported in doing so. We will support any campaign by the University of Melbourne NTEU to protect the rights, wages and conditions of all their members – inclusive of all permanent, casual, sessional, and graduate student workers on campus.

The conditions faced by students and staff alike are caused by massive underinvestment in universities as a public institution and by the creeping neoliberalisation of universities undertaken by executive management. More than ever it is important that staff and students understand that their fight is the same fight. Just as students shouldn’t accept a lower quality of education, staff should not experience lower quality conditions and pay. At the University of Melbourne there has been no fee relief offered to students so it is quite astounding that they’ve elected to lay off staff and ask those remaining to take pay cuts. The University executives have taken an elective 20% cut to pay, however a 20% cut to $1.5 million is still a salary of $1.2 million.

UMSU encourages students to attend and support the NTEU NDA on 21 May and join in on events and actions in the lead up to 21 May and on the day. The future of higher education is at stake and it has never been more important for staff and students to work together to take back our universities and support one another as we fight for a better university.

 

 

Update on Emergency Student Support Fund – 13 May, 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

 

🛑 Update on the Emergency Student Support Fund and end of semester assessment information 🛑

We’ve heard that many students who applied for UniMelb’s Emergency Student Support Fund are experiencing very long wait times in accessing their payments.

We are greatly concerned about this and encourage any student in this position to contact UMSU Advocacy with your case number, so that they are able to follow up with the University on your behalf.

We are also greatly concerned about the lack of information that has been provided to students about their upcoming end of semester assessments.

If you have been told how your end of semester assessments will be conducted — be it online, in an open book or if you’re being proctored — please let us know.

We have until 25 May present your concerns to the University.

End of Semester Assessments – 8 May 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

We’re getting close now to the end of semester and so many of you, like us, will be getting final exams and final assessments. The problem is a lot of students haven’t been told what those arrangements are. The University, faculty by faculty, the information has been coming and going. 

We have two concerns. The first one is that students obviously don’t know what’s going on, but more importantly we’re concerned about how the university will be conducting these exams. We’re worried the University will be using proctoring software like ProctorU or Cadmus which has been used at other universities at the moment, but has very severe implications on your privacy and your security.

The second thing we’re concerned about is that students who are relying on technology for exams now, whether it’s through zoom or through proctoring software. They may be unfairly impacted through technological failures, for example if you’re doing an exam and the zoom crashes, what’s going to happen to you then? So we want to make sure the University is putting things in place that make sure no student is unfairly disadvantaged.

This whole situation is very unfair for students, and students just need answers about what’s going on with their assessments. Students are rightly stressed and anxious about what’s going on. So that’s why we need your help to gather information about what’s happening in your assessment.

UMSU Education is launching a portal which you can report how you are doing your assessments this semester, be it online, in an open book or if you’re being proctored. We need to know, and we need to present this to the university, because this just isn’t fair.

Subject Grievances and Complaints – 6 May 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

Last week we presented our Fee Relief Survey Report to the University. We collected the experiences of over 6,400 students because students were contacting us distressed over the quality of their online studies. The results of the report evidence that the quality of some subjects has been unequivocally diminished in the transition to online delivery.

Yesterday we received a written response from the University stating that they will not be changing their position. This won’t come us a surprise to many of you, nevertheless it is disappointing that they refuse to even acknowledge the reality of students’ experiences. It certainly doesn’t seem to be “putting students at the heart of everything” they do.

If you  can evidence a diminution of your educational experience due to the move to online study,  👉the next step 👈  is to use the University’s complaints process. UMSU Advocacy is here to help and our website has information and templates to guide you this process. Our advocates can also provide you with advice about how to prepare your complaint, and to explain the complaints process.

We’re here for you, and will continue to fight for your best interests. Please get in contact with us if you need help. ✊💜

Fee Relief – 29 April 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

Fee relief was one of the first things we took to the University when online learning began.

The University has constantly told us that there is no reason why students should be provided with fee relief. That’s why we launched our fee relief survey last week – to allow us to demonstrate to the University where there has been a major reduction in educational quality.  Now, we can use this information tomake the strongest argument possible for students who need it. With over 6400 responses, we have the student voices to take to the university and that’s exactly what we are going to do.

Students need to get course advice before changing enrolment or taking a leave of absence.

We will keep you updated on any response.

View the Survey report here.

WAM Update – 20 April 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary 

 

 

After weeks of advocating for students, the University has finally changed its position on WAM.

Last week we presented our petition to the University which had over 13,600 signatures. This outcome is the direct result of student voices.
There is power in a union. UMSU will never stop standing up for students.
Racist attack in our community – 17 April 2020

Hannah Buchan, President

On Wednesday April 15 two international students from the University of Melbourne were told to ‘get out of our country’ during an alleged assault that took place in the CBD that appears to have been fuelled by coronavirus related racism.

The University of Melbourne Student Union is outraged by this incident. UMSU strongly condemns racist attacks of any kind. Xenophobia and racism have no place in our community at any time.

UMSU remains committed to ensuring the University is a safe and welcoming place for students of all nationalities and cultural backgrounds and we believe that combating racism is everyone’s responsibility. We need to find strength and support one another – racism and violence have no place in our community.

UMSU actively campaigns against racism on and off campus and will provide support to any student who is the victim of the kind of racist bigotry we have seen on our doorstep.

If you or someone you know has experienced hostility, online or in-person, 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:

The Australian Human Rights Commission leads the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia and resolves complaints of discrimination or breaches of human rights under federal laws.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provide free information about discrimination and a dispute resolution service to deal with complaints.

Sign the Petition! – 15 April

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

 

The University’s position on WAM is weak, which shows that your voices are having an impact. We’ve had over 8500 people sign our petition over the last 7 days, and have until the end of the week to get as many signatures as we can. Sign it, share it with everyone you know, and don’t forget to email the Vice-Chancellor directly, telling him the impact that this will have on you.

UMSU will keep standing up for students, but we need your help to do it. #strongertogether

Stand Together – 8 April 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

 

In an email to students this afternoon, the University reaffirmed that it is currently their position that COVID-19 will not have impacts on students, and will be waiting until after assessments are all submitted before making a final decision. This position is ridiculous, and shows that the University is out of touch with student voices.

Over the past couple of days, we have seen massive support for UMSU’s proposed changes to WAM calculations, as seen across many other universities. If it is good enough at universities around the country, why is Melbourne any different? UMSU has, and will continue to take this fight to University management, but we can’t do that without your help. So many students have already signed UMSU’s petition and sent emails to the Vice Chancellor, and we know this is having an impact. The larger our movement gets, the more likely we are to get this decision changed.

Students are strongest when we stand up together.

Sign the petition

Email the Vice Chancellor:

Dear Duncan,

I am a student at the University of Melbourne, and I am concerned about the current WAM requirements and lack of willingness to change them.

I have always performed to the best of my ability at this University. But like other students, this semester is taking a toll me, my studies, and my ability to perform. I know that other universities across the country have shifted their WAM requirements. I would implore you to adopt a similar system to the University of Adelaide where students have the option of taking this semester as pass/fail without affecting their WAM. I also think that this semester’s fail grades should not be recorded on students’ transcripts. This semester I don’t believe students’ performance is an accurate representation of their abilities.

In times like this students need your support. So please support us by putting these measures in place.

Sincerely,

Make a stand – 6 April 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Jack Buksh, General Secretary

 

Today we met with the University and discussed a variety of issues. The University doesn’t think that this semester will have a major impact on our WAMs, so we need your help to prove them wrong. As we shared with you last week, we strongly believe that the University should adopt models practiced at other Universities – an option for students not to have passing grades recorded on your WAM, and for any fail marks to be omitted from your transcript.

Students are at a disadvantage this semester, so it’s time for the University to stand up and do what’s right for students. Let the University know how you feel.

Students are stronger when they stand together.

Sign the petition here.

Video Transcript:

“Following on from our video from last week, we wanted to give you an update on our meeting with the University today.

So, in our meeting with the University — which included Vice Chancellor Duncan Maskell — we raised a variety of issues that are affecting students right now, including assessments, accommodation, the grant status, and particularly what we wanted to address with you today; the status of WAM and how this semester is going to impact that.

You’ve all been telling us that WAM is one of the things causing anxiety at the moment — I know, we’re the same — so that’s something that we raised. The University informed us that they’re not going to be changing how they calculate WAM. Because apparently coronavirus is not going to affect people’s studies.

That’s ridiculous. We think it’s ridiculous that this is the position they’re taking, considering universities all around the country are taking steps to make this easier for students, and changing WAM calculations.

This needs to change, and we’re going to keep fighting for it, but we also need your help to get behind us to get the University to change their position.

And that is; tell them what your thoughts are. Bombard their social media. Email them.

They need to know what you’re thinking, and the way we change this stuff is with the entire student body behind us.

So, we need your help.

When students come together students are stronger, and we know that the University has been proven to listen to us.

The University has indicated that they will be releasing more information about this soon, so we need to tell them what students think now so that they can change those requirements for WAM.”