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Email | Staying at Alert Level 2 – what you need to know

Kia ora koutou students and staff,

The Prime Minister has tonight extended the alert levels for 12 more days – Auckland will stay at Alert Level 3 and the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand will stay at Alert Level 2 until 11.59pm Wednesday 26 August.

This is good news for us, I encourage all students and staff to continue to focus on teaching and learning. We’ve got a week to go until classes finish, so we’re nearly there.

What this means for UC is outlined below and we will continue to keep you updated as more information is made available. Send any questions to

UC campus and student accommodation will remain open.

Teaching and learning

  • Learn sites are the main place for updates and detailed course information.
  • Lectures will continue online.
  • Labs and small specialist classes under 100 people will continue with physical distancing. In some circumstances face coverings may be required. If this is the case we can provide coverings to any students who haven’t brought their own.
  • Tests will go ahead with physical distancing.
  • Assessments due during this period will not change.
  • Application forms for special consideration for COVID-19 reasons can be found here.

Libraries and common spaces will remain open with the following restrictions

  • The 1 metre physical distancing rule will be strictly enforced in the Central Library and access will be limited to 700 people.
  • Everyone entering the library must scan the COVID QR code on display and scan their Canterbury Card (to enable us to track numbers).
  • The RecCentre will remain open with reduced class sizes. Book your place via the RecCentre app.
  • Cafes and food outlets remain open with physical distancing.
  • Additional cleaning of UC premises has commenced again at Alert Level 2.

Location tracking

  • UC is required by the Government to implement processes for location tracking so contact tracing can take place if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in our community.
  • You are required to scan either your Canterbury Card or the government app QR codes on display with your mobile phone when entering buildings and spaces around campus.

Health and wellbeing

  • All student care teams are available visit
  • Please call the Health Centre prior to your appointment. The Health Centre will not take walk-in appointments.
  • The At Risk Student Register has been reactivated to students to update their details.
  • Staff, if you need to work from home for health reasons, please discuss this with your manager.

The key principles for Alert Level 2 are to:

  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Physical distance where possible.
  • Consider wearing a face covering in places where you can’t physically distance.
  • Track your location via the government app, NZ COVID tracer.
  • If you have symptoms of cold or flu call Healthline 0800 611 116 and get advice about being tested.

More information

Visit UC’s COVID webpage for information about cleaning on campus, risk registers, wearing face coverings and financial support.

We have done this before, and we will get through this together. Kia kaha.

Ngā mihi,

Professor Cheryl de la Rey
Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae

Alfred Noble Prize awarded for research paper on ‘Ferrari’ overpass

Congratulations to UC Civil and Natural Resources Engineer Professor Alessandro Palermo, who has been awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Alfred Noble Prize for a 2019 paper he co-authored with UC PhD graduate Dr Mustafa Mashal (now Associate Professor at Idaho State University in the US).  

The paper ‘Low-Damage Seismic Design for Accelerated Bridge Construction’ discusses the experimental testing undertaken as part of Dr Mashal’s PhD. The project was part of a broader government funded programme (NZ Natural Hazard Programme) and led to the development of an innovative, seismically resilient connection at bridge piers (or columns) designed to sustain different levels of earthquakes without damaging the column. In a world-first the low-damage technology was used in the Christchurch Wigram-Magdala Link overbridge project, which opened in 2016. At the time Professor Palermo described the overpass as the “Ferrari” of bridges.

“The novelty of the paper is not just limited to the testing process. The paper also shows how that testing translated into a design solution that was used in a real-life bridge,” Professor Palermo explains.

When notified of the Alfred Noble Prize Professor Palermo says it was a nice surprise, especially coming from the ASCE – one of the most prestigious international associations in civil and structural engineering.

“I’m happy our paper was well-received by the ASCE. Since its publication, it was one of the most downloaded papers in 2019. This award shows the research we’re doing here in New Zealand is at the forefront of earthquake bridge engineering innovation.”

The award will be formally presented to Professor Palermo and Dr Mashal in October this year.

Professor Alessandro Palermo has been awarded the ASCE Alfred Noble Prize for a 2019 paper he co-authored with UC PhD graduate Dr Mustafa Mashal.  

New ACE teacher dashboard available for undergraduate courses

The Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE) early alert tool was implemented via LEARN in Semester 1 this year. ACE draws data from student engagement with course materials, assignments and Echo360, and provides students with a graph to monitor how their academic engagement is tracking compared to their peers.

Initially, ACE was set up to provide targeted support to first-year students enrolled in 100-level courses who are at risk of disengaging with their studies. An ACE Coordinator oversees the response process and works with key staff and services to help get potentially at-risk first-year students back on track to succeed. Unless approached by their College, teaching staff do not have to do anything if a student is flagged by the ACE tool. More information about ACE is available here>

Following the move to online learning, ACE has expanded to capture student engagement for 200 to 400 level undergraduate courses. A new ACE Teacher Dashboard is also now available for teaching staff to access. While this means that students and staff in 200 to 400 level courses will also be able to view the engagement levels via the dashboards, ACE will continue to only provide targeted support to first-year students enrolled in 100 level courses.

The ACE Teacher Dashboard  
Teaching staff have the option to use the new ACE Teacher Dashboard to get an overview of student engagement levels within 100 to 400-level undergraduate courses.

Drawing on students’ LEARN and Echo360 data, the tool shows:

  • Latest engagement – The number of students at each level of engagement (none/low/medium/high) within a course over the last three or seven days.
  • Historical engagement – The average engagement level of students in a course over time (three or seven day increments), allowing teaching staff to get an idea of how their students have been tracking.
  • Student engagement – The names of students who are enrolled in a course at each level of engagement, and the functionality to contact them (note – this doesn’t apply to 100-level courses, which ACE monitors).

You can access an ACE Teacher Dashboard on LEARN by clicking on the Course Management cog symbol at the top of the screen when you are on a course page. Then click on ‘Analytics for Course Engagement’ under the heading ‘User Links’. You can find out more about the ACE Teacher Dashboard functions here> 

If you have any questions about ACE or the ACE Teacher Dashboard please email

UC contributes to fight against COVID-19

From the maths behind the lockdown, to a prototype face shield for health workers – UC staff and students are providing a range of important contributions in the fight against COVID-19.  

Below is a snapshot of just some of the incredible research and work our community is currently involved in. Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora – Engaged, Empowered, Making a Difference.

  1. Shayne Gooch and other staff are collaborating with Professor Alexander Slocum from MIT to evolve a new design for a low-cost ventilator based on a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) type, which is commonly used to provide positive pressure ventilation in emergency care situations.
  2. Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase is working with his          former PhD student Dr Yeong Shiong Chiew (now based at Monash University, Malaysia) and his EU H2020 research consortia partner Dr Thomas Desaive (University of Liege, Belgium) along with their ICU partners at CHU de Liege, to develop a way to safely ventilate two patients on one ventilator.

    There is strong interest in ventilating multiple patients on a single ventilator due to the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients – especially in areas like Italy and New York City. They have developed a low-cost, simple design that removes the risks associated with current proposals for ventilating multiple patients, and creates a safe, effective way to put two patients on a single ventilator. Professor Merryn Tawhai (University of Auckland and Director of the MedTech CoRE) has joined the team, which brings together world leaders in lung modelling and intensive care research, and has strong clinical links in Europe and locally with Christchurch Hospital Senior ICU Specialist and University of Otago School of Medicine Professor Geoff Shaw. They are now applying for funding to prototype and prove their ideas, translating them to low-cost, easily used hardware, and intend to share their design worldwide for everyone’s benefit.

We know there is a lot more great work like this happening at UC. If you’d like to share your work, email

COVID-19 | 21 March

Kia ora koutou,

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement today about the increased risk from COVID-19, we have received many queries from anxious students.

Therefore, in consultation with all Colleges and the TEU, we have decided this is the appropriate time to accelerate our plans for online teaching delivery. 

From Monday 23 March all lectures and tutorials will be delivered and available online. For further details of these arrangements please see:

Campus facilities remain open.  If you are unwell, please stay at home. Staff who are in an at-risk group are advised to contact their manager to discuss arrangements for working from home.

Staff who require support for teaching online are advised to contact Kaylene Sampson.  Resources are available to support staff for this purpose.

The health and wellbeing of our UC community is our priority. The situation we all face is unprecedented. Our goal remains to provide quality education and to support the health and wellbeing of our staff and students. For additional support the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available.

Please continue to use if you have any queries.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui | Be strong, be brave, be steadfast.

Ngā mihi,

Professor Cheryl de la Rey
Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae