In an unprecedented move, classes at Monash University are set to begin a week later following concerns over coronavirus. With the exception of ten degrees, most of which are masters, semester one, which was due to begin on 2 March, will now begin on 9 March.
All week one classes will instead be provided online with students expected to participate as normal.
Classes will resume on campus from week two, Monday 16 March, with Monash requiring all new international students to register their attendance on campus by this date.
Further, Orientation Week, which includes all planned student camps, will be deferred. The University has said it will work with Student Association Presidents to determine when replacement orientation activities will take place.
These changes will result in a reduced Study WIthout Teaching Vacation (SWOTVAC) period (8-10 June) in order to enable a full twelve week teaching period.
The semester one exam period will also be reduced by 3 days, with no impact on semester two timetabling at this stage.
Monash’s campus at Suzhou in partnership with Southeast University has been closed until further notice and no group travel involving more than five students or staff to China, even if deemed essential, can occur until after 17 February.
Additionally, no students will be approved for future outbound departures on mobility programs to China until further notice from the University. Students with existing study abroad arrangements in China will be contacted by the Monash Abroad team who will assist in either cancelling these arrangements or redirecting students to alternatives.
In an email to Sydney University students yesterday afternoon, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence outlined the University’s response. No student or non-essential staff travel to China, Hong Kong or Taiwan will be allowed until further notice. This includes exchange programs, field schools, placements and other programs. Students within these programs will be contacted by the University.
Students will also be allowed to enrol in semester one classes up to two weeks after the start of semester one, meaning that students must be in Sydney on or before Monday 9 March for most courses.
Spence stressed that students who are able to demonstrate that their studies have been impacted due to travel restrictions or contact with an infected person will be supported. However, special consideration will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Commencing students who are impacted and unable to travel to begin their studies will have the option of either deferring their start date or having their fees refunded.
Earlier this week, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) caseworkers and lawyers stopped in-person meetings due to staff fears over the virus. However, this restriction was lifted today.
As of this morning, 9 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia, as Australian health authorities continue testing people who show symptoms. More than 200 people have been tested.