Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Monday 23 March

Professor John Dewar AO, La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor and President, outlines new measures to support students during the COVID-19 crisis.

I am writing with some important information about your studies at La Trobe, at what I know is a difficult time for all of us. I truly hope that you, your family and your friends are ok. 

This is a good time to remind you that we provide a comprehensive student wellbeing support service at La Trobe, including free counselling. This is available online or over the phone, and I encourage you to access these support services if you need to. 

Over the last week, we have taken some important decisions to ensure that you can make progress with your degrees under these difficult conditions. Our aim has been to protect our staff and students as much as we can, while minimising the disruption to your studies. As a result, over 90 per cent of our subjects will be delivered online from tomorrow.

We have also introduced some new measures to support those who have been financially affected by the crisis. 

Detailed information follows.

New measures to support students 

We understand that many of you are now facing financial hardship and we are committed to doing everything we can to help. The following measures will be implemented immediately: 

  • We’re waiving the requirement for students to pay the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) for Semester 1, 2020. Any students who have already made their payment will receive a full reimbursement. The University will also continue to support the delivery of services that are funded through SSAF, including advocacy, support services, and support for clubs and societies. 
  • We have created the La Trobe University COVID-19 Financial Assistance Programa support package available to current students experiencing financial hardship. Application details for the program will be announced shortly. It will include:
    • A technology bursary that will support those who don’t have access to computers or internet at home.  
    • A one-off $3000 Crisis Support Scholarship for students experiencing significant financial crisis and housing insecurity.  
    • An emergency relief fund that will provide one-off payments for essentials such as food. 
  • Census date will be moved to 15 April to give students additional time to make changes to their enrolment. 
  • If you fail a subject this semester, the fail grade will not appear on your academic transcript and will not be included in the WAM calculation. However, students will be required to successfully complete any subject that is a prerequisite for other subjects before being permitted to enrol. 
  • process for applying for refunds for parking permits will be announced this week. 

Moving subjects online from Tuesday 24 March 

From tomorrow, Tuesday 24 March, we’re moving most of our subjects to online delivery. We have made this change to ensure that you can continue your education during the COVID-19 outbreak, while minimising health risks to you and our staff. Only subjects with an essential face-to-face component will be delivered on campus, and in these cases the social distancing guidelines will be followed.  

Before you begin taking your subjects in online mode tomorrow, I want to make you aware of three key supports that we’ve made available to make this transition as seamless as possible:

  • The first, and most important, support that you will receive during this online study period is from your tutors, lecturers, subject coordinators and course coordinators. They can be contacted through your LMS subject sites to support you during your online learning experience. I encourage you to check your LMS subject sites frequently to stay up to date. 
  • The second support is our new La Trobe Guide to Studying Online, which is now available on the LMS. I recommend enrolling in this module to familiarise yourself with online study before your classes resume tomorrow. 

Moving most of our subjects to a new online delivery mode in just a few weeks has been a huge task, so I ask for your patience, tolerance and support for staff and fellow students if we do experience some technical difficulties in the coming weeks. 

If you have any questions in relation to the transition of subjects to online mode, please check the University’s COVID-19 Student FAQs. If you can’t find the answer you need in the FAQs please contact ASK La Trobe.

Respectful behaviour 

I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that La Trobe is an inclusive, welcoming and diverse community. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. Sadly, there is evidence that some members of the wider community have been displaying unacceptable behaviour towards our Asian community. If you have experienced any discriminatory behaviour we encourage you to contact our Speak Up service, which offers free advice and referrals. Alternatively, you can report discriminatory behaviour to Victoria Police. 

Social distancing 

To protect the health of everyone in our communities, it’s vital that we all follow the correct protocols around social distancing. I encourage you to watch the video that the Department of Health has put together on social distancing.

Updates 

I want to assure you that La Trobe University is doing everything it can to ensure that your education can continue during a very difficult period for everyone, and that you are as fully supported as possible. Please check your student email, student app and La Trobe social media channels for COVID-19 updates.  

Take care

Professor John Dewar AO

Vice-Chancellor and President, La Trobe University