Announcing a $5.2 million initiative today (April 8), USQ acknowledged the unprecedented circumstances that had brought significant challenges and disruptions to students.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the measures would help the University’s most vulnerable navigate difficult situations.
“We pride ourselves on the individual support we offer our students, and we’ve worked very hard behind the scenes to make the transition to online learning as smooth as possible in the past few weeks,” Professor Mackenzie said.
“We know how important it is for our students to receive the support they need and feel empowered to continue with their studies in this rapidly changing environment.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Josh Pienaar said the University was aware that this was still a uniquely stressful and anxious time for students faced with a loss of income, poor internet connectivity or no personal computer.
“So now we’re also offering additional financial support to assist with living expenses, and access to technology and learning resources like textbooks and software,” he said.
- The support plan will include:Living expenses (one-off and/or fortnightly payments of $500 for up to three months)
- Provision of technology (one-off payments of $1000)
- Provision of learning resources (one-off payments of $500)
“As a leader in high quality online education in Australia, USQ was ready and able to move quickly with most degree programs already available fully online,” Professor Pienaar said.
“But in recognition of the considerable upheaval caused by COVID-19, we’re also offering some extra academic support measures.”
- Assessment considerations (such as assignment extensions)
- Fail marks not affecting GPA
- Extended hours and extra online chat, academic and learning support
“Steps are also being taken to support our Residential Colleges, including regular welfare checks and financial assistance.”
Professor Pienaar said COVID-19 had brought with it changes to the way students worked, and had impacted their family life, employment, and education.
“Through these times, we must all remember that the current difficult situation will pass, and with this in mind I encourage students to remain focused on their longer term education and career goals,” he said.
“We will make it through this together.”
USQ employees are also stepping up with the upcoming launch of a staff-giving program to assist the student community.
Education student Nick Whiteside, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Josh Pienaar, Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, and Business student Ash Brar