The University of Western Australia's graduate association, Convocation, has come out strongly supporting UWA staff who quickly developed new, innovative ways of teaching and assessing students during COVID-19.
UWA Warden of Convocation, Clinical Professor Lesley Cala, said at a time when universities across Australia had already been under considerable pressure to do more with less, UWA staff did a fantastic job the way they rapidly and professionally adapted courses, lectures, tutorials and assessments for online delivery.
"COVID-19 has dramatically changed so much for all of us, as it continues to destroy lives and economies in tragic and destructive ways we have never previously seen," Professor Cala said.
"Despite the existential nature of these challenges, UWA staff – working very long hours – put aside their own concerns and those of their families as they selflessly rushed to modify courses and teaching and assessment methods.
"Staff adapted their homes and home lives in really imaginative ways so they could virtually welcome their students into their homes and create a sense of some sort of normality and continuity in courses.
"They all did this at a time when, for so many people, COVID-19 was turning into an almost nightmare scenario that might be depicted in a fanciful Hollywood movie."
Professor Cala said that, for many of us, COVID-19 has been a terrifying experience and she congratulated all UWA staff for rising to the challenge to allow all students to, not only continue their university education, but also offer them wonderful and friendly support, when many may have been struggling to make sense of what was going on.
"I particularly want to acknowledge Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO for the outstanding way she has embraced all staff and students, showing real leadership at this critical time, always communicating with staff and students in very supportive and reassuring ways," Professor Cala said.
"I commend UWA information technology staff for their extraordinary efforts to ensure online teaching methods were not only achievable, but also a very effective replacement for face-to-face learning.
"I also congratulate all UWA students for responding so positively to all the changes, and to those who quickly turned their attention to COVID-19 research, joining national and global efforts to seek out possible vaccines and treatments for this virus, as well as for future pandemics."
Professor Cala said Convocation Council has been working closely with UWA efforts to support international and other students stranded in Perth, as a result of COVID-19, with no jobs to support themselves and, in some cases, without any accommodation.
"I sincerely thank UWA graduates and the wider community for their generosity, quickly stepping in to provide much-needed support to many students facing financial and other difficulties as a direct consequence of the pandemic," Professor Cala said.
"Convocation has been supporting UWA staff, students and graduates for over 107 years – including during two world wars, the Spanish influenza and the Great Depression – and we will continue this support through the current pandemic."