La Trobe students affected by the Australian Government’s ban on travel to and from mainland China are keeping their studies on track thanks to the University’s flexible study arrangements.
Lily* is one of thousands of Chinese students at Australian Universities affected by the Australian Government travel imposed on 1 February. The Bachelor of Applied Science/Master of Occupational Therapy Practice student was due to fly out to Australia earlier this month for summer school at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus.
She’d returned to China in early January to celebrate the Chinese New Year holiday with her family and friends.
When she realised the Government’s travel ban would prevent her flying back to Australia before the subject commenced, Lily was understandably worried about how her studies would be impacted.
“This is my last year and I have placements coming up,” she says.
“If I was not able to start the semester on time, a lot of things needed to be rescheduled and my student visa could have been affected.”
Fortunately, La Trobe has responded quickly to the international emergency by offering online delivery of subjects to affected students, ensuring people like Lily are not disadvantaged while waiting for permission to return to Australia.
Lily praised the Rural Health School and her teachers for making sure she continued to be included in classes.
“My teachers spent lots of time working out the best way for me to continue learning,” Lily says.
“A computer was set up so I can access the PowerPoint while the lecturer is presenting, and I can also watch demonstrations by the lecturer.
“All the learning materials were sent to me prior to class.
“They constantly checked in with me to make sure I was not losing [internet] connection.”
The long-distance arrangement hasn’t hindered Lily’s ability to take part in groupwork either.
A group of classmates quickly volunteered to work with Lily, with staff finding the group a quiet space to work where Lily could better hear the discussion.
Professor Richard Speed, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, said it was wonderful to see La Trobe students supporting one of their classmates hit by the travel ban.
“I’m also pleased to see how responsive staff have been to provide flexible learning arrangements to students in China,” he said.
“Since the travel ban was announced we’ve being working very hard at La Trobe to ensure that we’re providing online delivery options to all of our affected students.
“They have now all been contacted with their study options and we’re working through their personalised study plans before Semester 1 starts on 1 March.”
Amazingly, Lily’s sister, also a student at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, had returned to Australia for summer school just before the travel ban was put in place.
She too has needed to use La Trobe’s alternative study arrangements while waiting out a 14-day quarantine recommended for those who’ve recently returned from mainland China.
She used video conferencing software to avoid missing any of her Physiotherapy classes.
Fortunately for both students, all their family and friends in China are safe and well.
Even though their home province of Guangdong is 1000 kilometres from the hardest hit province, Hubei, Lily says it’s still very quiet on the streets.
“Everyone is advised to stay at home, not having any family gatherings and avoid contacting other people,” she says.
“We have to wear a face mask if we go out for grocery shopping.”
The MyLaTrobe team is looking forward to welcoming Lily home to Bendigo as soon as the travel ban is lifted.
*The student’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.