Questions from Staff Forum 20 March

We didn’t get to all your questions – here are the ones that were not answered on the day.

Are residential halls closing down? How will those students in halls be managed?

Residential halls continue to operate during the lockdown period and staff working with halls have been added to the essential staff list of people who can access the UC campus during lockdown. Students in halls continue to receive pastoral care.

For those courses that can’t go online, what’s the alternative i.e. Fine Arts?

Thankfully most of UCs courses can be delivered online. Academics and the academic support teams such as E-learning are working together to create options for those courses that are particularly challenging. UC is working on deploying resources to support students with online delivery and is investigating options for specialist courses.

If staff need to work from home can we access resources such as desks to ensure we have a save work environment?

Many staff took up the pre-lockdown advice to take home whatever is needed to set up a safe and functional work station at home. The advice was to advise your manager of any equipment you took home so they could add it to the assets register.
However, if you have any further needs, the Incident Management Team (IMT) may be able to help. In order to support your health and safety whilst working from home and in particular supporting our essential online teaching programme, the IMT are putting in place a new process to handle these requests. Please email so we can triage your requirements and provide guidance. Please note under a Level 4 alert level we may be unable to provide equipment to staff at home depending upon the physical size of the equipment requested, nature of the use and location of the equipment being requested.

HR continues to provide wellbeing advice about working from home. The Covid-19 FAQ Intranet page is available here. Email for any other queries.

Does travel ban include Antarctica? We have the postgrad course in Antarctica (PCAS), as well research projects in Antarctica including postgrads and staff.

If the travel is through the Antarctica NZ logistics and support programme and is directly from NZ to Antarctica, and Antarctic NZ is able to support the PCAS course at that time, and the PCAS course is a high priority for student learning in the College of Science, then yes. Dependent on international travel restrictions for non-residents on entering New Zealand later this year, then international students could participate in the PCAS course, subject to any additional restrictions imposed by Antarctica NZ on travel to Antarctica.

If the travel is not direct to Antarctica and requires routing through another country, then the travel should be deferred for 2020.

Will there be job losses in the case of long-term full scale campus shut down?

There is no doubt that the University will be affected by the current situation, and we appreciate that this will create uncertainty for staff. The extent of the impact on UC, as with the rest of the economy, is still emerging and it may take some time to analyse and assess. There will be further communications about this as soon as possible, once the issues are better understood.  

Why so indecisive about deciding to go fully online? Are we not ready? Is BAU as long as possible to allow us to get ready? Intent needs to be communicated.

There were different levels of readiness throughout UC, so the decision to move the term break forward gives everyone the chance to organise online learning so that students continue to have an excellent learning experience.

Would UC consider giving discretionary leave to anyone with Covid-19, or impacted by whānau with Covid-19, even if staff have sick leave, so not to use it all up?

Leave information is here.

Re: page updates, could this be organised by topic rather than by SMT member name? It is difficult to follow currently.

This information has now been reorganised.

All the staff email updates are available here

The Covid-19 FAQ Intranet page is available here.

There’s information on the UC website here.

Is the infrastructure in place for general staff to work remotely if necessary?

IT has worked through over 400 Assyst tickets, many of these to support remote access. You can log a request through Assyt, but also please do check if the information you need is available on the IT pages here.

How will UC support international students and staff with visas through Immigration New Zealand that are affected by recent border/travel restrictions?

UC is providing support from Student Services for students facing visa issues. If students or staff hold a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July inclusive, and they are still in New Zealand, their visas will be automatically extended to 25 September 2020. They will get an email to confirm the visa extension. There is comprehensive information on the UC and INZ websites.

The entry date of all new student (first entry) visas has been extended so all a student needs is a letter from UC stating that we will allow them to begin their studies from a specified revised date (later than that on their offer letter).

IRO has contracted a licenced immigration officer to assist UC students with the visa application process.

Has there been any cases in the halls?

Not in the halls. There has only been one case so far and that student returned from Vienna and went straight into self-isolation with her family.

Students are worried that they don’t have adequate internet download speed or quota. How will UC manage this?

Before lockdown, UC sent a survey to all students to find out about their ability to get online in terms of devices and broadband. This will be followed up to capture other students who may still need assistance. We are also mindful of how much data apps such as Zoom use and how this can be managed. UCNZ have approached internet providers and we are waiting to see the outcome of these discussions.

Are international students covered in terms of their medical insurance?

As Covid-19 is a notifiable disease the NZ health system provides support and care for patients diagnosed. Our International students will also be covered for all Covid-19 related medical or emergency transportation claims. For other medical issues the student’s medical insurance will cover them.

Does offering an exam online for one student (eg a study abroad student who has to return home) require putting the exam online for everyone?

We are intending for all teaching and assessments to be able to be delivered online for the rest of semester 1 so students can complete their studies from the location they are in regardless of COVID-19 alert level. Departments and schools are working on a range of options that support student learning without disadvantaging students.

So no staff mental health help? Just self medicate? It’s hard to role model good behaviour when we are not seeing or feeling it.

These have been really difficult times. There has not been a suggestion for staff to self-medicate. Resources for staff well-being are available here. Teams have set up online get-togethers to keep in touch and colleagues are supporting each other through social media. EAP are still available if you need counselling – they are online.

Vic are offering 100 semester 2 scholarships for affected new students. Are we doing anything similar?

UC is currently offering hardship grants to help students through this semester.

Final exams. Will exchange students forced to repatriate, and others enrolled but overseas, have to pay to sit the final exams overseas by the usual procedure?

No, all tests and other invigilated assessments will be delivered online. Teaching staff, along with Elearning, student support teams, and the UCSA are working together to ensure students are supported in completing assessments.

Strategy: Test all UC staff and students. Establish quarantine for all positives. Carry on with Teaching and Research – with no travel. What is the stance on domestic travel for research?

We will follow the Government’s lockdown (alert level 4) advice and will update our advice to staff in line with changes in alert level or further Government information.