Due to the COVID-19 restrictions most universities have moved all their classes online.
I’m studying a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science at the University of Tasmania and many of the units in this course have practical lab exercises that form part of my assessment.
My biology units now upload images of dissections and microscope images, but this really isn’t the same. For the chemistry units it’s generally not possible to do much practice outside the lab.
With all classes now being online it’s a real struggle to keep up with the work load. At the start of the year we were told that if we didn’t physically show up to lectures we would likely fail.
It’s true that watching lectures alone online can be disengaging. It removes an important part of the structure from learning. But now that’s how we’re all being taught.
The university has given us an extra five days to submit assessment tasks, and exams are being replaced with an online submitted assignment. That’s a good start, but much more consideration should be given to the disruption caused, and more time should be given to hand in work if needed.
While the quality of the education being delivered is much less, all students are still expected to pay the full cost of their fees. University education should be free for all, but at the very least our fees and expenses for the 2020 year should be refunded.
Some people I know don’t have access to the internet at home and were instead going to the library to study. The library has now also closed which makes it impossible for them to do their work.
This crisis really impacts the poor the most. Knowing this, the university should provide every student with a laptop and free internet access. It’s the least they could do.
I was living on campus until recently which meant I was using a communal kitchen and living areas. This made it very difficult to maintain proper social distancing. Very few precautions were put in place by the accommodation provider.
For them making more space would mean less money in rent so they have been reluctant to make the safety changes we needed. Rent for all student accommodation should be waived during this crisis, and extra accommodation with more space should be found to house students safely.
The University of Tasmania has also announced that’s its going to cut some courses. This is going to have an impact on staff, many of whom are casual. The university should pay all staff their full wage for the duration of this pandemic. It’s not their fault their jobs have been impacted.
Universities have made many millions of dollars over the years, mostly through treating international students as cash cows. Its time they used that money to support students and workers in these difficult times.
By Charlie Taylor