A number of new measures have been put in place to support students as teaching returns to campus for Semester Two.
Last semester, COVID-specific supports were established such as COVID-19 hardship support and the upscaling of grades. To mitigate issues around online learning, the university loaned out hundreds of laptops to affected students. This semester, the university says it has recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only current students, but also secondary school students planning to attend the university. To address this, new support systems have been put in place.
An initiative titled ‘Pae tawhiti – student success’ aims to target potential future students who may have had their education negatively affected by COVID-19. “This year the University will place a stronger emphasis on Year 12 results than in the past. The guaranteed entry score (rank score) that we have used previously will not be required to guarantee a student’s place in a programme,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor John Morrow. “We anticipate that our changes, along with NZQA’s change to the University Entrance requirement, will enable students who were planning to come to university study in 2021, to do so, despite Covid-19-related disruptions this year.”
According to Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, equity issues emerged as a key concern in Semester One, and some of the support systems established this year aim at addressing these issues. The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations and other nationwide students’ groups have highlighted some of the challenges that COVID-19 restrictions have posed to tertiary students. In many cases, the conditions of the nationwide lockdown heightened many inequities that were already present, and this has been detrimental to the education and wellbeing of many students.
Moving forward, both current and future students will continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19, as will the university. Emergency funds that provide financial support as well as health and wellbeing support will continue to be available.