Saturday, November 27

Students trapped in Auckland fear falling behind in their studies

College students who are trapped in the lockdown in Auckland say they are falling behind in learning remotely, while most of their peers are able to physically attend classes.

Generic library / students

File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Sophie Dixon is in her third year of law degree from Victoria University of Wellington.

She traveled to Auckland for the break, but was stuck when the lockdown went into effect on 18 August.

“When the lockdown came we weren’t sure how long it was going to be, and all my roommates were also in Auckland and not Wellington. I didn’t necessarily want to go back and isolate myself on the floor. So I didn’t make a very conscious decision. But I thought I’d stay in Auckland and here I am, four weeks later. “

Victoria University of Wellington offers face-to-face and online classes so that those who cannot go to campus can study.

Although Sophie can attend remotely, she said the lessons are not designed for those who are stuck at home, which is creating some challenges.

“When the university was online, we were getting clear online lectures that were delivered for online students. Whereas now that Wellington has returned to alert level 2, we have switched to dual delivery. Which means most of my lectures are in person and then I have a less interesting or less catered online option for the online audience, which is not ideal. “

“Obviously the university is trying to act in a way that suits students who want to go back to class, and I would love to be someone who can go back to class. But there is definitely a difference between someone speaking directly to a webcam and someone speaking in a conference room, so you feel like your experience is less valuable than sitting in a conference room would be. “

She said it has left her feeling unmotivated, fatigued and behind in her studies.

“The big problem is that we have big exams in a month and you can’t really point to the fact that you have spent two weeks much less productive than everyone else, or under great stress because you live in Auckland. And I think that’s it. what worries me is that people who can only participate online are very behind in their work right now and then struggle later in the term, but how is college going to solve that problem? “

Victoria University Student Association President Michael Turnbull said that while the university offers support, it remains very difficult for students trapped in Auckland.

“All this change in alert levels, this latest outbreak has been very disturbing for several students. Students are finding that their income and finances are affected. They are finding that their academic grades and success are affected. Most of all, They are discovering that their hauora is actually affected by this change in alertness levels.

“The students are really discouraged and wanted to come back for the second half of the quarter, and I think they are particularly concerned about what this means on the exams.”

Both the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology have decided to run classes online for the remainder of the year.

Other universities across the country have also put measures in place to allow students to learn online.

University of Waikato Director of Student Services Mike Calvert said several of his students are at Level 4 in Auckland.

“We have approximately 800 students whose home address is in Auckland and about 60 percent of them returned home when the alert levels changed and it just so happened that the alert level change happened at the time of our teaching break. , so a lot of the students probably would have returned home by then anyway.

“Several hundred students will be in Auckland under Alert Level 4, so obviously a large component of our support has focused on that cohort.”

Even when Auckland goes to alert level 3, it is not sure if students will be able to return.

“We would have to get advice on that. We want to do the right thing. We want to keep the community here safe and we have to balance that with the number of needs of those students.”

“We have a cohort of students from Northland, for example. We have supported them with the relevant documentation to make sure they are able to transit Auckland, so that when needed we can support the students.”

University of Canterbury Deputy Vice Chancellor Catherine Moran said they have around 450 students currently in Auckland and are doing their best to make sure students don’t feel too isolated.

“Our University of Canterbury Student Association is going to create a Facebook page called Auckland Plus so those students can connect and share some of their stories about being UC students and being hampered by travel restrictions. But we too we have implemented some additional resources for separate tutoring classes for those students who cannot return to campus because we really don’t want students to feel disadvantaged. “

Moran said that students who have been trapped in the lockdown will take this into account when it comes to assessments.

“We wouldn’t make grade changes or anything like that. Actually, we didn’t do it in the last lockdown, we didn’t consider it necessary, but we have something in place called special considerations and all of those students will automatically be considered for special considerations.”

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