Why is Semester 2 starting early, will it be online and what’s happening with WAM?

Over the past few weeks we’ve had many questions in relation to the early start to Semester 2 and changes to WAM grading for Semester 1 2020.

Why is Semester 2 2020 starting early?

We are beginning Semester 2 one week earlier than planned to allow time for catch up subjects and classes to be scheduled for compulsory face to face activities in November and December 2020 (restrictions permitting). This will enable students whose progression has been disrupted to get back on track with their studies by 2021, and students who are near graduation to complete as close to the scheduled time as possible.

Will Semester 2 be online?

The health, safety and well-being of our staff and students is our number one priority, so the University will continue to deliver subjects and teaching online until it is safe to do otherwise. At present we are observing the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and not operating face-to-face at our campuses. We are closely monitoring the ongoing changes to Government restrictions and in the event of these restrictions being relaxed, we will revise our arrangements in accordance with the advice and guidelines from Government. All students will be updated on Semester 2 delivery plans in the coming weeks.

What’s happening with WAM rules for Semester 1?

In developing our approach to grading, we consulted students from across disciplines to understand the impacts of moving to a pass/fail grading system. The feedback highlighted that most students did not want to move to a pass/fail grading system and most students were concerned that this would have a negative impact on their progression into postgraduate study.

We have given serious consideration to student requests for amendments to our WAM grading systems. We investigated the feasibility of making this major change to grading and looked at how it has been implemented at other universities.

Our systems won’t support the pass/fail approach to grading. Changing to a pass/fail system would involve making all our grading manual, which would delay validation and publication of all student results. Unfortunately, this problem can’t be resolved by additional staff, as the University requires strict protocols and training for all grading activity.

Waiting for many months before grades can be provided would cause acute stress for many students. Delays to grading would also create very serious problems for students who need to fulfil pre-requisite requirements or graduate. By introducing the V grade La Trobe was the first university in the sector to implement an adjustment to grading to minimise the impact of study this semester on student WAMs.