Remote delivery of teaching at the University of Sydney has been extended for the remainder of Semester 2, with exams and graduations also proceeding online.
The University had initially planned to deliver its activities remotely until the mid-semester break but were prevented by ongoing restrictions caused by the Delta COVID-19 outbreak.
Current provisions for activities that require an on-campus presence or in-person components will continue.
While we can expect an easing of lockdown restrictions as NSW’s double vaccination rate approaches 70%, the University says its decision to continue with remote learning is due to operational and logistical challenges.
“[I]t is important to consider the challenges a sudden return to face-to-face teaching would pose for our teaching staff at this point in the semester, as well as the scale of the task of working through the logistics in regards to safety and other operational requirements,” said Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott in an all-staff email.
Although the University asserts that remote learning is temporary, several Vice-Chancellors have suggested that the move towards online delivery forced by COVID will give remote learning a more prominent role in higher education in the future.
Former USyd Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said that online delivery was being used as an opportunity to develop USyd’s approaches to blended learning in the future. “These experiences will undoubtedly benefit our teaching and learning in the future, but we also know the value of face-to-face human interaction,” he said.
At the same time, the higher education sector is facing revenue shortfalls from declining international student enrolments, with 40,000 university jobs axed over the last year. This has raised concerns that forced online learning is a cost-cutting strategy that further deteriorates the quality of education.
The University notes that as restrictions ease, more students will be given “the opportunity to come to campus in COVID-safe ways, should they wish, without disrupting scheduled learning.”