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Letter to the VC: STUDENT DEMANDS COVID-19


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Date
2020-05-04T16:40:55

For media enquiries, please contact studentengagement@guild.curtin.edu.au

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ATTN: VICE CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR DEBORAH TERRY AO AND THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE TEAM OF CURTIN UNIVERSITY

CHANCELLORY, BUILDING 100
CURTIN UNIVERSITY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

5/5/2020
RE: STUDENT DEMANDS COVID-19

Dear Professor Terry,

Please find attached a petition launched on the 31st of March 2020 signed by 5,229 Curtin University Students as of the 5th of May 2020. The petition makes three key demands of the university which reflect the significant academic, financial, and mental toll the COVID19 crisis is having on students.

Opt-In Ungraded Fail System
The Guild welcomes an opt-in ungraded pass system, but maintains that support must be given for students who fail due to circumstances caused by the COVID19 crisis. We must implement an opt-in ungraded fail system for these students.
Other universities across Australia have committed to protecting their students’ CWA when they fail due to factors caused by the COVID19 pandemic, which are outside their control.

A. La Trobe University, UNSW, and Swinburne University will be excluding any failed units from academic transcripts and CWAs/SWAs this semester.
B. The University of Sydney is adopting a ‘No Disadvantage’ position whereby students who fail will receive an ungraded ‘discontinued’ (fail) grade that will not contribute to CWAs/SWAs.

If Curtin’s University’s current Strategic Plan aims to ‘lead in curriculum design and new learning and teaching approaches’, Curtin should endeavour to remain ahead of the sector in the academic response to the pandemic, and introduce these protections.

Reduction of Unit Fees
Students at Curtin and across the country are calling for course and unit fees to be reduced amidst the crisis and the swap to online learning. Many students, particularly International students, are struggling financially without access to government support, and in many cases, without the support of their families. In addition, students are feeling the difference in quality of education from face-to-face to online study. In justifying the reduction in SSAF fees, Curtin noted that the provision of online services is not comparable to physical services. If this is the case, why charge students the same amount for online learning as for face-to-face learning?

Extend HDR and Research Submissions and Scholarships
HDR students are also feeling the brunt of the crisis. Without the ability to physically gather data, many research students will struggle to complete their research on time. We’re calling for a 6 month extension to HDR scholarships to support these students.

In conclusion
It is imperative that Curtin University understands student concerns that the online teaching environment during COVID-19 has impeded their ability to perform at an optimal level. Students are finding communication hit and miss, there are issues with technology, gathering data is often unsafe, group assignments are difficult and the inability to work together with classmates and undertake labs are all impacting student performance. Curtin students require urgent action on course fee reductions, an Opt-In Ungraded Fail System and a 6 month extension to HDR scholarships.

Yours sincerely

Hana Arai,
President
Curtin Student Guild