- Spring session will commence on Monday 20 July. The University is continuing to plan our return to campus and the majority of Spring session activities will commence online. Some essential classes such as practicals will return to campus from 20 July.
We know how challenging it has been this year, moving to online learning and dealing with many disruptions to your normal routine. There are many teams supporting our staff and students behind the scenes. Here, we share our IT Support team’s experiences in response to COVID-19, how their work has changed and how they have responded to each challenge. Paul Hardaker, Associate Director, Academic and Campus Experience, shared his thoughts:
“The on-campus IT and AV support work that eight of my teams normally do stopped almost entirely as the University switched very quickly to working/studying from home. At the same time, the demand for IT assistance from staff and students trying to come to terms with working or studying from home went through the roof. This meant that we had to quickly bring together the staff from the IT Service Desk with many of the staff from the campus-based teams and turn them into one large IT Service Desk, with all of them working from home.
“Things we would have believed to have been impossible prior to the COVID-19 crisis are in fact very possible, if we can find a way to work together towards a common objective.”
- Like many other unis, we’ve reconsidered our operations to respond to the global pandemic. In response, we are shifting the Spring/2H mid-session break to commence two weeks later on Monday 28 September. This coincides with the NSW school holidays. Spring/2H classes will resume on Tuesday 6 October, following the Labour Day public holiday. We will continue to support student learning during this time. Spring session will still commence on 20 July.
- No additional cases of COVID-19 have been reported within our community since the last update.
- Significant changes are being proposed for the higher education sector as a result of the current pandemic crisis. As part of the reform, the Commonwealth Government has announced an extra 39,000 university places will be available by 2023, which will help address the increased domestic demand for higher education.
- The University is reviewing the details of this reform in order to understand what this will mean for our operations, however it is encouraging to see the government’s focus on large-scale job creation, and the crucial role that universities have in providing highly skilled graduates who are ready to support the nation’s recovery and meet future employment needs.
- The announcement also includes proposed changes to the government and student contributions to the cost of studying from 2021. These changes do not impact current students and the Government expects that 60% of commencing students will be better off or not affected by these changes.
- Staff recently voted on two proposed initiatives to help the University address financial challenges we face in 2020 and beyond as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both academic and professional staff returned an overwhelming ‘Yes’ result for both initiatives (increased mandated leave for all staff, and salary reductions via mandated Banked Additional Leave scheme for all staff). These measures aim to provide job security, while enabling the University to operate in a sustainable manner. Results have been submitted to the Fair Work Commission for ratifying, and once ratified, we will be able to officially implement both initiatives.
Resources available to students via the University’s Counselling Service:
- You can access videos tailored to provide practical and professional advice on ways to manage things like anxiety, time management and exam memory blanks.
- Register for The Desk (available to all Western students) to build skills for success, resilience and wellbeing with online resources aimed to help you stay calm, feel good and get things done.
- The Study, Money and Life Skills modules found in vUWS will help you with important skills, including exam preparations, and management of your finances.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a significant increase in malicious cyber activity across Australia. This includes cyber-crimes such as scam or phishing attempts. Phishing is a commonly used cyber-crime method which uses email, telephone calls, text messages and posing as a legitimate business or person to try to lure you into providing your username and password, or other personally identifiable information for malicious purposes. There are a number of guides available on the Cyber Security webpage that can help you stay safe.
- Dr Kate McBride and Dr Brahm Marjadi from Western’s School of Medicine, are helping local health departments get their workforce ready for any future spikes that may occur. Working with the University of Notre Dame Australia and the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Dr McBride and Dr Marjadi developed content for a new case investigation and contact tracing training course for public health staff and medical students to ensure we are prepared to manage any potential outbreaks in the future. Read more about this amazing work on our News Centre.
- The Library is extending its hours at identified campuses. Before heading to campus, please check the Library website for current opening times.
- We have recently been made aware of a staff member who tested positive to COVID-19 in March and has made a full recovery. This brings the total number of cases in the University community to seven (two staff members and five students).
- Dr Ashlee Gore is a lecturer in our School of Social Science, who also finds time to work with a local women's shelter that provides accommodation and support to people experiencing family violence and homelessness. Ashlee’s insight into what lockdown can mean for some of our community will lead to a better recovery. You can read more about Dr Gore’s work in this Western Facebook post.
From Monday 1 June, we will commence the first stage of our return to campus. This is the first of four planned stages to be implemented between now and early next year. Stage 1 will continue until mid-July and will see us addressing the need to complete practicals on campus for 15 units.
In addition to this, essential lab research, and some Higher Degree Research student presence and local field work, will recommence. These are activities that can’t be undertaken remotely and enable students to progress in their degree.
- We welcome the recent announcement from the NSW Government of support for international students for temporary housing, increased legal support, and the establishment of a 24/7 international student support service.
International students can contact the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline on 13 77 88, for free advice and information.
- Our Recovery Management Team continues to work through a plan for a phased return to our campuses, taking into consideration the latest advice from government and health authorities. Spring session will commence online.
- There have been no further positive cases of COVID-19 reported in our University community. Please remember to let the University know if you have been asked to self-isolate or you are being tested for COVID-19.
- An updated version of Zoom is now available, with enhanced security and privacy features. All student and staff must download Zoom 5.0 to their work and personal devices by Saturday 30 May to ensure continued seamless use of the Zoom platform.
- Teaching activities will remain online for the remainder of the current teaching sessions and for the commencement of the second half of the year. A significant portion of teaching and learning will continue online through Spring session.
- Please continue to monitor the current regulations from the NSW Government about what you can and cannot do in public spaces to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
When will we return to campus?
The University has decided that classes will remain online for the foreseeable future. This means that the remainder of the current teaching session and, at this stage, a significant portion of Spring session, will be online. We continue to keep the health and wellbeing of our community front of mind, along with the advice from government and health authorities. The University is planning minimal disruption to studies and will update students and staff with more information as it becomes available.
- Western has extended the opening hours for our study halls and they are now open from 9am to 9.30pm.
- The latest Government advice indicates that restrictions will slowly be eased, with the Prime Minister announcing a three step plan. The plan outlines actions to be taken by July, with a review period between stages to assess impact on infections.
- The University has announced our offering of 12 intensive online short-courses to new, commencing students starting from May 2020. These courses are in response to the Australian Government’s Higher Education Relief Package, which assists displaced workers to develop new skills, or retraining for new careers, in areas that address national workforce need.
- Thankfully, we continue to only have a small number of confirmed cases in our community (currently 5 students and 1 staff member).
- Our students are encouraged to engage with WESTERNLife – a SSAF-funded program that will help keep you connected with your peers in a virtual community. Via WESTERNLife, students can share their experiences, and join online social events, clubs and societies. Through their engagement with the site, students can also earn badges and win prizes.
- There has been some great feedback from our students who have received assistance through the Student Assistance Fund. Students are encouraged to seek support through the domestic student or onshore international student application webpages.
- The NSW Government announced the easing of some social distancing restrictions. From this Friday (1 May), two adults may – along with their children – visit another household. While this news is encouraging, we urge you to continue to use safe social distancing practices and staying home if you feel unwell in any way.
- While COVID-19 has certainly changed the way many students are studying, this could be the perfect time to try some of Western’s online tools designed to help you achieve academic success. Study Smart allows students to get free online help when needed most. Study Smart Online (Studiosity) can be accessed from within your vUWS dashboard for writing feedback and general assignment writing advice. Additional help is available on the Study Smart webpage.
- As with any challenging time, it’s good to pause and look at some of the positives that have arisen. For some, it may be extra time with family while for others it may mean spending time on something new or something recreational. Watch this video as some of our students share the positives they are taking from studying at home.
- The COVID-19 challenge will continue to impact on our student and staff communities for some time. The University has a range of support services available online or over the phone. Visit the wellbeing and support services webpage or email email@example.com.
- The Australian Government has launched the new COVIDSafe app, to enable faster identification and management of COVID-19 outbreaks. Downloading the app is completely voluntary. Further information is available from the Department of Health about what the app is for and how it works.
- We advise that our first staff member has been officially confirmed with COVID-19 last week and was last on campus on 20 March. The staff member and the students previously diagnosed with COIVID-19 are all doing well and being supported by NSW Health.
- As at 9am, Friday 24 April we have three confirmed cases in our community. In addition to previous updates, we received advice of a third confirmed case in our community. The online student was diagnosed last month and is recovering well.
- We have received reports that some students are receiving phone calls from people claiming to be associated with the University, asking for personal bank or visa details. This is a scam. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also targeting Australians with a range of COVID-19 themed scams, both over the phone and online. It is vital that students and staff take simple steps to protect yourself and your information. The IT webpage has resources and information to help with cyber security.
- Western’s Student Assistance Fund is supporting students who may be doing it tough at the moment. Some of the support provided includes grocery vouchers, modest financial support, or a loan laptop. The domestic student or onshore international student application webpages provide further information about the support and assistance available.
- Learning online is a new experience for many. From getting organised and taking stock of your surroundings to raising your virtual hand in class, you can set yourself up to master your Zoom classes and lectures with these tips from your fellow students.
- Yesterday we received confirmation of a second case of COVID-19 in our University community, with a fellow student advising of a positive test result. We are supporting the student, who is well and self-isolating following the positive diagnosis.
- Thank you to everyone for maintaining the physical distancing and hygiene protocols in place. We should all also continue to practice good hygiene, including washing hands thoroughly and regularly, and, most critically, stay at home if unwell.
- The University is working through the details for the short courses Western will offer under the Federal Government’s Higher Education Relief Package. Further information, including the courses that will be available, will be communicated shortly.
- So, while we might be physically apart at the moment, we’ve made sure that many of our on-campus services are still available for students. Now more than ever, it’s important that students can still connect with us, collaborate creatively with peers, and, most importantly, look out for each other during this unsettling time. This is why the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is so important for the first half of 2020. SSAF notices have been issued.
- The Vice-Chancellor's has addressed students in this video. The video thanks students for their commitment and perseverance as we moved to remote learning, and provides an update on what the University is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- We would like to acknowledge the dedication and care shown across Western Sydney University in recent weeks. We thank everyone for their effort and support of each other through this unprecedented time.
- Significant changes to exams and grading have been implemented given our current remote learning environment, with a greater emphasis on take-home exams and alternative assessment methods. All assessments and examinations will continue to be graded.
- NSW Health has identified a number of areas with an increased risk of community transmission of COVID-19, including parts of Western Sydney. If you are in an identified area for increased testing and surveillance and you are experiencing even minor symptoms (such as a sore throat or cough), you are encouraged to seek advice from your health practitioner and you may be advised to get tested for COVID-19.
- Above all, look after yourselves and each other. If you need support, we are here to help you.
- We welcome the Higher Education Relief Package as announced by the Government over the weekend. Through this package, more places will be available for Australians to take up the opportunity to develop skills and retrain in areas that will help the country during and after the COVID-19 pandemic – areas include nursing, teaching, health, information technology and science.
- The Government has also committed to supporting universities by guaranteeing funding at current levels via the Commonwealth Grant Scheme and HELP funding payments.
- Our Student Assistance Fund is supporting those experiencing extreme hardship due to COVID-19. You may be able to access grocery vouchers, modest financial support or a loan laptop. To apply, complete the domestic student or onshore international student application form.
- Western is here to continue helping you in any way we can, with a number of support services available via phone or online. Visit the wellbeing and support services webpage to find out how you can get help with employment, welfare, finances, learning support and IT assistance.
- Our study halls remain open every day from 9am to 5pm for those who need a quiet place to study and access to Wi-Fi. Please check the Study Halls website before heading to campus for updated locations.
- As a precaution, we closed the Liverpool campus to undertaking a sanitising deep clean of the site after one of our students tested positive to COVID-19. The Liverpool Campus has now re-opened.
The University advises that one of our students has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first confirmed COVID-19 case among our 48,000 students and 3,000 staff.
The student is in good spirits and experiencing mild symptoms. The student is self-isolating and we are providing support and extend our best wishes to the student for a speedy recovery.
The University has been delivering all classes online since 30 March. The only time the student attended campus in recent weeks was on 3 April to return a library book to the Liverpool campus. The student had no close contact with anyone while there.
As a precaution, we have closed the Liverpool campus until Tuesday 14 April and are undertaking a sanitising deep clean of the site. If you wish to find a quiet place to study over the weekend can find an alternate Study Hall location on our website, such as the nearby Bankstown (Milperra) campus. The health department have taken the lead on managing the student’s situation, according to their response protocols, and they are satisfied that the University has responded appropriately.
We are committed to supporting our students and staff. You’re not alone and support is available through our student and staff wellbeing and support services.
- We are here to help you and support you through this extraordinary time.
- The Coronavirus Support Hotline is available for all students (domestic and international) to access personalised support. The Coronavirus Support Line can be accessed by phoning (02) 9852 5399, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm (AEST), or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students who are experiencing extreme financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 situation, may be eligible for further support from a Student Assistance Fund we are establishing. This will include support, such as grocery vouchers and limited financial support. These are subject to eligibility criteria. Contact the Coronavirus Support Hotline to get all the assistance and advice you need, linking you up with all the support services we offer.
- If a student has suddenly lost their job, the University can also provide employment help. Accessible through the central Coronavirus Support Hotline, we can help you with identifying transferrable skills, upskilling you through online resources and training, and match you to vacancies in other industries.
- Study Halls are still open at selected campus locations for students. These are located at Kingswood, Liverpool, Parramatta South, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury and Milperra campuses, and are available from 9 am to 5 pm, seven days a week. Up-to-date locations have been added to the Study Hall website. Please adhere to physical distancing requirements at all times.
- The Library also continues to be open from 10 am to 2 pm on weekdays. Online support is available via chat and email from Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. You can access some Library services online, including Library Information Central, Study Smart and off-campus access to library resources.
- Our Early Learning Centres remain open, and the Government has announced an Early Childhood Education and Care Relief package, which will see families receive free childcare during this pandemic. Please see the Prime Minister’s announcement for more information.
- All staff and students are now based off-campus, with only essential staff on campus.
- Classes are no longer being held on campus.
- The Government has introduced strict physical distancing measures and rules around leaving your home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
In line with the new restrictions which came into effect on 31 March, you must stay at home unless you are going to:
- work (if you can’t work remotely)
- school or an educational institution
- shop for food and essentials
- get medical care or supplies
- Public gatherings have been limited two people, except for members of the same household or where the gathering is essential for work or education.
- If you do leave your home, you must always keep 1.5 metres away from other people. It is important to wash your hands as soon as you get home.
- Staff are encouraged to use the flu vaccination voucher available through our Work, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Program as early as possible.
- Our campuses remain open and accessible for staff to access equipment or students to access designated study areas and libraries.
- As much as possible, all staff are being directed to work from home and not come on campus if unwell. Requests to come on campus should have approval from supervisors first.
- The University has prepared ‘Study Hall’ areas on some campuses for students to study and access Wi-Fi. These will be open between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
- Library operating hours have now changed. Libraries will be open from 10.00am to 2.00pm, with physical distancing measures in place.
- Access to support services, such as the Library, IT, Student Central and Wellbeing, are available online or over the phone.
- Yesterday, the government announced a suspension on rental evictions for the next six months, as a result of financial distress. Please review the latest advice on the Australian Government website. The Government also announced further restrictions on gatherings, which are now limited to a maximum of two people. Workplaces and education are currently excluded from this requirement, but physical distancing must be followed.
- We all need to stay at home as much as possible to help slow the spread of this pandemic. From next week, all students will be studying online and can access our support services remotely. No classes will be held on campus.
- The University remains open; however, we are making some changes to the spaces on our campus that will be available. Students can come on campus if you need a quiet space and access to our Wi-Fi network.
- From next week, there will be a small number of essential staff on campus, as we’re encouraging our staff members to work from home.
- The operating hours of our libraries have changed. The usual opening hours will apply this Saturday (28 March) but all campus libraries will be closed on Sunday. From Monday 30 March, libraries will be open 10am to 2pm. You can find a space to study or access the Wi-Fi network. Strict physical distancing measures will remain in place.
- As well as the libraries, additional ‘Study Halls’ will be available from 9.00am – 5.00pm to provide additional distributed spaces for students to study and access Wi-Fi. These will be available on Kingswood, Liverpool, Parramatta South, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury and Milperra campuses.
You will be able to access our support services, such as the Library, IT, Student Central and Wellbeing, online or over the phone. For further information about how to access support and what services are available, visit our Student Support webpage.
- Some facilities on campus will be closed, such as the computer labs, Badanami Centres and some food outlets.
- Strict physical distancing measures will be in place for those that do visit a campus. Security will be patrolling to ensure these measures are being implemented and followed.
- We continue to follow all of the latest Australian Government and health authority advice; taking all of the necessary precautions; and doing our part to slow the spread of the virus.
- The University continues to be open and operating, as we are committed to maintaining opportunities for our students to have a high-quality educational experience.
- However, we are taking substantial measures to reduce the number of people on our campuses and to provide a safe environment.
- Our campuses are still able to be accessed, for those whose attendance is essential. This includes students who require access to Wi-Fi, libraries and study spaces.
- If you attend our campuses, it is critical that you follow physical distancing measures, to protect yourself and those around you.
- Most of our classes are already being taught online. By Monday 30 March, all courses that are able to be taught online will be, including some labs and practical classes.
- Support services will be transitioned to online or by phone by Monday 30 March. Face-to-face counters will be closed.
- The Australian Government has announced that students who receive Abstudy, Austudy and Youth Allowance (students) will be eligible for the Government’s fortnightly $550 coronavirus supplement. Visit the Services Australia website for more information.
Western is open and operating. While we’re not aware of any cases within our student and staff community, we’re taking precautionary measures to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus. These precautions are to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and broader community.
- Working to progressively move most classes and learning support online – our aim is to have moved all possible units online by Tuesday 31 March
- Strengthening our study and welfare support
- Increasing our cleaning across all our campuses with a focus on communal and high traffic areas
- Responding to health authority recommendations and implementing physical distancing measures on campus
- Cancelling all events not directly related to teaching and learning for the foreseeable future. This includes major University events, such as our April graduation ceremonies.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
- The Australian Government has announced that all incoming arrivals into Australia will need to enter mandatory self-isolation for 14 days.
- While we have no confirmed cases on our campuses, we are taking all necessary precautions and are continually reviewing and acting in accordance with Australian Government and health authority advice.
- The University has introduced a range of new, precautionary measures, aimed at decreasing the time our students and staff need to spend on campus, and help slow the spread of the virus in our community.
- The University is cancelling all major University events for the foreseeable future, to help protect the health of our students, staff and community. This includes this week’s Western Fair activities and our upcoming April Graduation ceremonies.
- We are also working to progressively move classes, lectures, tutorials and other teaching and learning activities online over the next few weeks.
- Further to the University’s decision to suspend international University-related travel, we are also suspending non-essential domestic air travel.
- The University is also implementing increased cleaning across our campuses with a focus on communal and high traffic areas, and additional supplies of hand sanitiser are being distributed across all campuses, particularly in communal study areas and libraries.
- Added support will also be available for all students who may feel anxious or isolated, or may require additional assistance with studying remotely.
As the coronavirus situation in Australia continues to develop, we want to share with you recent advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. This confirms that the risk to the general Australian population from COVID-19 remains low.
The latest report from NSW Health states over 16,000 people in NSW have been tested for COVID-19, with 92 cases confirmed, over 14,000 excluded and just under 2,000 currently under investigation.
Here are some tips for you to consider:
- Be safe – consider how you can take precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow the basic protective measures outlined by the World Health Organisation.
- Be smart – inform yourself about COVID-19 and the current situation. The University’s Coronavirus Information website includes links to the latest factsheets from authorities and answers to frequently asked questions.
- Be kind – don’t spread rumours or make assumptions. Be a role model and support one another. Share the latest facts and provide calm and correct advice to others, including children.
- The Australian Government have extended existing travel restrictions to include the Republic of Korea.
- If you feel unwell with COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever and cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath, please stay at home (or go home if you are already on campus) and phone your doctor or health practitioner for further advice.
- All existing travel restrictions to China, Iran and Korea will be in place until at least 14 March 2020.
- There are protocols in place for staff to follow in the event that a student or staff member is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms. Please refer to the Information for staff FAQs for further information.
All international University outbound travel is suspended for the foreseeable future.
This suspension includes all study or work-related travel to conferences, exchange programs, site visits, research-related travel, and all student group travel. HDR student travel into Australia and off shore should also be rescheduled in light of the current situation.
If you’re a HDR student and you have a question about University-related travel, please speak with your supervisor. If you have a query about group travel in which you are involved, please speak to the academic staff member leading this.
The Australian Government confirmed the existing travel restrictions will remain in place for another week, until at least Saturday 7 March.
Circumstances regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are changing rapidly.
- Given the spread of the virus, we ask all of our students and staff to review the need for any international travel at this time and for the foreseeable future.
- With the spread of the virus in Japan, Iran, South Korea and Italy, travel to or transit through these countries is no longer approved for all staff and students. This is in addition to our current travel restrictions to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
- In future, all countries whose Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advisory is at level 2 or above (see the Smart Traveller website) due to COVID-19 will be included in our official travel ban.
The University is sharing the below details in alignment with WHO (World Health Organization) protocol. You will see this information displayed across campuses on posters and digital screens.
Source: World Health Organization
Yesterday, the Australian Government announced that the current travel restrictions would continue for another week. Here is the announcement: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/continuing-travel-ban-protect-australians-coronavirus
The University is supporting students who are currently in China and who wish to travel to Australia via another country. The University has offered a one-off $1500 subsidy to students from China who choose to spend the 14-day travel exclusion period in another country before entering Australia. This recognises the additional costs that these students will incur as they attempt to get to campus to start the year.
The Australia Government announced that the current China travel restrictions would be extended for an additional week, to 29 February. Please be reminded:
- Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents) who are in mainland China, will not be allowed to leave or transit through mainland China and enter Australia under the current travel restrictions, which continue to be in place until 29 February.
- Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependents only).
- Anyone who returns to Australia must isolate themselves for 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.
Our thoughts remain with our students and colleagues currently in China who are unable to get to Australia. We will continue to support them and make alternate arrangements for students to engage in their studies from China.
- The University is preparing to welcome our new students on campus for orientation next week. Orientation activities are continuing as planned, and for students currently in China we are considering two additional international orientation days to be held after Autumn session starts.
- We are developing plans to minimise the impact of the travel restrictions on students currently in China. To keep study plans on track, we will provide additional online learning and teaching support to these students for the first few weeks of the Autumn session.
The coronavirus situation is continually changing, sometimes rapidly. Western is committed to keeping our community informed of our efforts to support students & staff.
The following are short video updates from our Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO.
Dean of our School of Medicine, Distinguished Professor Annemarie Hennessy shares the latest update from Western Sydney University.
As at 3 February, the latest advice is summarised as follows:
- Travel advice for those planning to visit China has been upgraded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to level 4 – do not travel.
- The Australian Government is asking anyone who has travelled from China from 1 February to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they leave mainland China. Previously this advice was for those returning from Hubei Province only.
- From 1 February, entry to Australia will be denied for anyone coming from China or who has transited through mainland China with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family. This is a temporary measure in place for at least two weeks.