University Responses to Everything of Late

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A recap on the Operating Plan, financial aid the Uni is offering, and how you can speak your mind productively

Words | Anonymous

In early February this year, the Vice Chancellor announced an Operating Plan for 2020 to 2024. It slipped under most of our radars with the literal apocalypse that has been raging on for the last six months. Now that we’re kinda used to the apocalypse, we have the time to consider what the Operating Plan and other University initiatives mean for students.  

The Operating Plan emerges from the senior executives’ decision that Macquarie University needs to evolve and adapt to contemporary circumstances. As a part of this adaptation, the executives suggest these thematic priorities: students first, coursework suite and delivery, focused investment in research, our people, and ways of working. 

After announcing the proposed Plan, the university offered various platforms for staff and student consultation. Staff were offered in-person consultation with Professor Dowton or an online feedback portal. Students were also invited to similar in-person consultations. The University decided to incentivise student participation in these sessions with a $50 gift voucher following low engagement in the early stages of the consultation process.

As a student who attended one of those meetings (and scored a sweet $50 bucks for my groceries last fortnight), I have some insight into what the hell those thematic priorities might actually look like. One example offered by the Vice Chancellor included more obviously structured degrees. In his words, Macquarie University began as a uniquely flexible alternative to older universities in Sydney. Today, that flexibility causes a lot of administrative weirdness and irrelevant unit selection by students (Drugs Across Cultures, anyone?). The 2020 curriculum shitstorm was their way of streamlining our degrees to resolve this. 

Another consultative move by the University was an international students webinar so that students could seek advice on online study and the University’s coronavirus response. The most frequent comment in the chat was a hashtag demanding refunds for international students. 

The University hasn’t issued refunds or tuition fee concessions for international students. Instead, they’ve released the Student Success Support Package. The Package offers financial aid to students affected by coronavirus. The package includes emergency $250 e-vouchers for groceries and rent, deferment of 25% of tuition fees, up to $2000 grants (no repayment) and loans (repayment required), and extended payment plans for tuition. All students need to do is fill out the expression of interest and within 48 hours they should receive some kind of communication about their request. It’s not a refund, but it’s still helpful if you’re in dire circumstances. 

The University has also begun a calling campaign to reach out to both international and domestic students. The campaign includes recording students’ impressions of online learning, any feedback about units that didn’t translate online as sexily as you might’ve wished, and whether you feel supported by the University. As well as this, the staff calling you will discuss a range of academic and support services offered by the University depending on your situation. 

If you’re feeling at all hopeless or pissed off by everything right now, please seriously consider the feedback you can offer in these calls. Obviously don’t be a dickhead to the person calling but do speak your mind if you’re unhappy. It’s a lot more productive than bitching in the Facebook discussion page. 

So, there you have it! A condensed version of the thousands of comms your student email account has received over the last few months. Now you don’t have to stress that you never read them – we’ve got you. 

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