RUSU calls on RMIT to follow the actions of institutions such as Swinburne, Monash, and La Trobe University and temporarily put all teaching activities on hold to allow RMIT staff adequate time to prepare courses for full online delivery, where possible. Students should not have to choose between their health and their education. RMIT must act swiftly to ensure the health and safety of all students.
Follow RUSU on Facebook for all the latest COVID-19 announcements from RUSU.
With the support of the National Union of Students, I am writing to call for a 20% tuition fee reduction for students impacted by the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. While I applaud RMIT’s creation of a hardship fund to support students, an overwhelming number of students continue to contact me stressing the need for tuition fee reductions in addition to hardship support.
As a result of the transition to online learning, and the pressures due to COVID-19, students are concerned that they are no longer able to receive the full suite of face-to-face tuition, practical, lab and studio classes that they envisaged for their studies. Students now have a wealth of online learning options available to them, in many cases at a lower cost than RMIT full fees. I was saddened to hear that some students are considering leaving RMIT to take up other study options as a result of COVID-19. I would love to see RMIT continue as a diverse and vibrant learning community of choice for all students. I am also aware that the financial pressures caused by COVID-19 are creating difficulties for some students who may be unable to pay their tuition fees by the usual deadlines.
Accordingly, RUSU is calling on RMIT to act swiftly to:
• provide a 20% fee reduction in line with calls from the National Union of Students, before the census date for semester 2, 2020
• implement fairer fee structures for students impacted by the transition to online learning
• provide additional options for students who need to withdraw or who are struggling to pay their fees due to the pandemic
I urge you to communicate publicly with all students to provide a further explanation of RMIT’s position in response to these concerns as soon as possible and prior to the census date.
Before the weekend, the Federal Government revealed a proposal for radical changes to university fees for students in Commonwealth Supported Places. The government’s plan for tertiary education would see the cost of degrees more than double for many students, crippling them with a lifetime of debt.
Those hit the hardest by these changes would be those studying degrees in humanities, law, economics, management, and communications, which are expected to increase their student contributions by up to 113%. These changes are being framed as a reprioritisation from arts to science to produce ‘job-ready graduates’. As such, those studying in areas such as science, engineering, and mathematics would see their contributions decrease. However, one doesn’t have to look much deeper to see the reality of this ill-considered proposal.
It’s easy to assume that this is simply a rebalancing of government and student contributions. That is not the case. For many courses where students will be paying less, the government will be paying less as well. Cutting the funding that universities receive for science and engineering will stretch university resources for both new and existing students, further increasing the already high staff-student ratios. The new fee structure incentivises students to study STEM subjects, but universities will be left with even less incentive to offer them.
These changes are just another cut to education. The government is looking at saving around $770 million out of this, all while making students pay more on average. Cuts to education and backwards thinking like this are not unexpected. It is completely unsurprising that the Liberal Government would use the cover of crisis to take steps towards achieving their ideological dream of dropping university funding entirely. These decisions at a time like this will only worsen the intergenerational inequities in this country. The government’s disregard for universities and students is on full display.
RUSU stands with the National Union of Students, who are calling for the government to adequately fund education and not force students to pay for their economic mismanagement and incompetence. University shouldn’t be a debt sentence. Sign this petition to tell the government to stop the fee hikes and fund education properly!
This proposal still needs to pass the senate, so if you still want to do more, then these are the senators that still need convincing:
Stirling Griff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pauline Hanson: email@example.com
Jacqui Lambie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rex Patrick: email@example.com
Malcolm Roberts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let them know how you feel!
In times like these, it is more important than ever that we come together as a community to overcome the challenges we are facing. International students are experiencing unprecedented levels of financial and social hardship. They are isolated from their friends and families, away from home, and are not receiving the support they need from our government and universities.
That’s why it is so disappointing and disgusting to see that international students are being attacked just for being here. Racism and violence must never be tolerated in our community. It is completely unacceptable. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behaviour.
We have to be better than this. RUSU will always support our international student community, and we remain committed to ensuring that RMIT is a diverse and welcoming place for all students.
[In response to an SBS news report detailing the apparently racially-motivated attack and robbery of two Melbourne based Chinese students]
I know this is a strange time with mid-semester break. A lot of us would normally be catching up with friends and family in person, and may now need to find ways to connect virtually. Some of us may now be back with family, when we’d been living out of home before COVID-19, which can create its own challenges. I am especially concerned for our international students, and I issued a statement about that yesterday. On top of this everyone is trying to catch up on studies after a wildly disruptive start to semester.
I’m pleased to announce that we’ve been able to put together a pretty quick response to students in urgent need. We have food vouchers available for people who are facing food insecurity, including international students. We’ve already sent out a number of urgent vouchers and we’ll keep doing this until we run out of funding. RUSU staff will be taking a break over the public holidays from Friday 10 April to Tuesday 14 April, and our usual services will be back on Wednesday 15 April.
I’ve been in almost daily discussions with RMIT, and the team here has been pushing for changes and updates that support you. We have continued to campaign for fair assessment policies in light of the pressures students are facing at the moment. We are calling on RMIT to respond well ahead of the new census date, so you can make an informed choice about your studies this semester.
Thanks to everyone who has filled out the RUSU survey. We hear that students are concerned about fees and that many of you have had to spend significant amounts of money on equipment to help you study online. The survey will be open over the mid-semester break, so please fill it out if you can.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, students find themselves facing high levels of uncertainty and have struggled to adjust to new learning environments. International students have been particularly affected by this. It is in times like these where we, as a community, must stand together and support each other.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a statement that suggested international students should “make their way home” and that “our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents.” This is a disgraceful response. RUSU actively condemns this statement. We are incredibly disappointed to see, in this time of crisis, that the Prime Minister has reverted to the hurtful and divisive rhetoric that has defined his tenure. To suggest that international students are a burden to this country dismisses their incredible contribution to our economy, our universities, and our community.
RUSU will always support our international community, and we remain committed to ensuring that RMIT is a diverse and welcoming place for all students. We commend the NUS National Union of Students for their continuing fight for justice and equality for international students, and we stand beside them in solidarity. Every student deserves to be supported.
If you need support, RUSU is here for you. Compass can provide online supermarket vouchers to students for supplies and food. RMIT has also expanded their Student Hardship Assistance fund and Equity Scholarship fund to provide up to $10 million in additional support for students impacted by COVID-19.
We encourage all students to complete our survey on the student experience through the COVID-19 transition to online learning. Any information you can provide us will help us represent the needs of RMIT students and assist in our efforts to push the university to provide greater support and flexibility for students.
It is important that we stand united in facing the challenges to come. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Take care and stay safe.
Please complete the RUSU Student Experience Survey.
If you are in need of urgent assistance, please contact RUSU Compass.
Apply for RMIT Support Grants.
Read the statement from the National Union of Students.
On Sunday, RMIT made the decision to suspend all face-to-face learning and teaching activity, effective immediately. This decision came after days of campaigning and lobbying by RUSU, and we are pleased to see that the right call was eventually made. Students shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their education.
On Monday, the NUS National Union of Students campaign to include recipients of Student Youth Allowance, Austudy, and ABSTUDY in the Australian Government’s stimulus package was successful. The stimulus package was amended to include these payments, which will save thousands of students from poverty.
On Wednesday, after a week of lobbying from RUSU, RMIT revised the census date (the last day to withdraw without financial penalty) to April 30. This is a big win. Students will now be given an additional month to assess their new learning environments and decide whether or not it is right for them. A big thank you to all the students who spoke up and fought for this date to be changed.
The last day to withdraw without academic penalty was also shifted to the end of SWOTVAC, which means students now have until the week after classes end to drop out of classes without getting a fail grade. This is a good result but RUSU will keep pushing for all fail grades to not be recorded on transcripts or contribute to GPAs.
We’ve had some huge wins as students in the last week, but there are some that aren’t so lucky. International students continue to be left out. These students are some of our most affected. These students are not eligible to receive any of the stimulus benefits for students. Many rely on reliable part time work to pay rent, and if someone has had their income significantly affected by this crisis, then they should get access to the same benefits. The National Union of Students is running a campaign to support international students, which includes pushing for affected international students to receive the same $550 coronavirus supplement as domestic students, amending visa conditions to allow those international students to study part time, and extending all subclass 500 student visas by 12 months, in recognition of the interruption to international students’ education during this crisis.
We can do more than just lobbying the government to support international students. RMIT should help as well. While we are happy to see that residency requirements for students are being relaxed, there is more that can be done. RUSU calls on the university to reduce student fees for courses which have transitioned to remote learning, including those already paid, by at least 20%. This will be especially helpful for international students who are struggling to pay rent or put food on the table.
We’re also pushing for SSAF to be reallocated to best assist students in this crisis. Some of the total SSAF money that the university receives goes towards events and activities for students. With so many of these events being cancelled, it is important to ensure that this money is still being spent on student services. This money should be reallocated to services such as student counselling, emergency financial assistance and hardship grants for those that need it most, and towards student advocacy to make sure that students are heard and their rights are protected. These are the services we need now more than ever.
This is a difficult time for all students, as it is for everyone the world over. This pandemic is unlike anything our community has faced before. It’s important that we all look after ourselves and each other. RUSU is here for you, and we will continue working every day to get the best outcomes we can. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been rapidly evolving over the past several days, and many students are rightly feeling uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety right now, both about their studies and their personal situations. RMIT has contributed to the uncertainty by delaying their response to the pandemic. RUSU's position has been clear and consistent from the very beginning:
Students should not have to choose between their health and their education. RMIT must act swiftly to ensure the health and safety of all students.
RUSU has called upon RMIT to put all teaching activities on hold, in order to allow RMIT staff adequate time to prepare courses for full online delivery, where this is possible. This is in accordance with the NTEU’s view that proper preparation for online delivery cannot happen when lectures are required to adhere to business as usual workloads. We believe the successful delivery of online lectures requires preparation and planning, and RMIT must allow staff the time to establish a new framework for achieve excellence in online learning.
RUSU has also called upon RMIT to revise the census date to April 30th, to allow students the necessary time to assess the quality of their new online learning environment, so that students can make an informed decision about how they should proceed. Students should also be given additional allowances to drop classes or defer at any point during the teaching period without academic penalty. We have asked that the last day to drop classes or withdraw without academic penalty (save your GPA day) is moved to the end of SWOTVAC to give students time to think clearly.
At RUSU, we are still working hard behind the scenes to provide high quality, essential services to students in a remote setting. Our Student Rights and Compass teams have implemented remote operating procedures to students. Email Student Rights or Compass for support.
Meanwhile, our other RUSU departments are focussing on getting the services up and running that we can deliver online successfully, such as our English Language Workshops. The Realfoods and Compass teams are also working to provide you with resources and information, to help you stay healthy and eat well using simple recipes and basic ingredients while you’re at home. Our clubs and societies department are working to deliver remote alternatives.
Our web and communications team are making sure information updates are available as soon as they happen, so make sure that you stay up to date with all of our latest announcements and posts, through following our Facebook page. You can also check back to our RUSU Covid-19 statements page, to see every statement we’ve made in one place.
Our team members who cannot deliver online services, such as our events team and our weekly free food offerings, are busily working in the background, making sure everything is ready for us to deliver you a top class service when we do resume our on-campus services.
We urge students to read the statement from the NUS, calling on the Australian government to increase students access to welfare, and to make it fairer for those most in need. You can read the NUS full statement here, and join in with the campaign by signing the petition here.
We fully understand that this is a really difficult time for all students, as it is for everyone the world over. It WILL end. Normal life WILL resume. But first, we have to get through this together.
Right now, even in isolation, connection is so important. Online, phone, and text connections are the things that are going to matter for the next little while as we introduce more physical distance into our lives. So reach out, stay connected on RUSU social pages, stay healthy, and stay safe.
As the COVID-19 situation escalates, RMIT’s inaction on census date revision continues to contribute to increased levels of student anxiousness. With the transition to online learning scheduled to be completed only one day before the census date on March 31, students don’t have adequate time to assess whether or not online learning is right for them.
RUSU calls on RMIT to revise the census date to April 30, as the University of Melbourne has done. We also call on the university to revise the last day to drop classes or withdraw without academic penalty to the end of SWOTVAC. Students need more time than one day to make a decision on continuing their studies and need additional allowances, given the circumstances, to drop classes or defer at any point during the teaching period without penalty.
RMIT has been lagging behind other institutions in their response to the pandemic. Now is the time to act.
RMIT has published its latest update on COVID-19. While they, unfortunately, haven't paused classes as requested, they have provided further clarity on the transition to online learning and ensured students that if they don't attend classes next week, they will not be disadvantaged.
I've had multiple meetings with the Vice-Chancellor over the last few days. Today, he has assured me that students who choose to prioritise the health and safety of themselves and others, instead of coming to class next week, will not be disadvantaged in any way.
RUSU will be there for students to make sure the university keeps its promise. If you don't feel comfortable coming to classes next week, then don't. Just let your course coordinator know.
I'll still be pushing for on-campus classes to be paused throughout next week, as well as advocating for extending the census date, fighting for more hardship grants for students, and keeping an eye on our education to make sure it continues to meet the quality standards we all expect.
You can see all the latest information from RMIT at https://www.rmit.edu.au/coronavirus
Take care, stay safe, and look out for each other.
In its silence, our government is finalising a generation of inequality for today’s young people. The National Union of Students has published a statement with the support of student organisations across the country, demanding that the Australian Government take action to ensure that students aren't left behind in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement from the NUS:
COVID-19: Student Representatives Across Australia Demand Government Response
NUS NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS·FRIDAY, 20 MARCH 2020·4 MINUTES
For Immediate Release
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the social inequality many young people have experienced for too long. While the world tries to manage an unfolding pandemic, this crisis has led to insecurity in housing, income, and study without action from our government.
This crisis will affect all aspects of the lives of students and young people. Casual workers, most of whom are students, have no guarantee that they will get paid if their workplace is to shut down or they must self-isolate. Working people need to know they don’t have to make the decision between going to work sick, or self-isolating and not being able to pay their bills.
At Universities, our campuses are closing and moving online, while ongoing fears about fees and future of study, especially for international students, remain unaddressed.
So many questions remain unanswered, but what we know is that if this continues, bills will stack up, evictions will occur, and income support payments will be lost.
In its silence, our government is finalising a generation of inequality for today’s young people. As they move towards announcing their second stimulus package, young workers and students are begging for support. The Morrison government is yet to respond to our concerns. Instead, focusing on lining the pockets of business and giving out one off welfare payments that will fail to bring students out of poverty.
As such, we the signed demand the following from the Morrison government (and states where applicable):
- Immediately relax eligibility criteria and pause mutual obligations for Youth Allowance and Newstart. Further, the government should relax requirements to allow for Postgraduates to access payments.
- Immediately increase Youth Allowance, Newstart and other related welfare payments by at least $95 per week so that no one relying on government support during this crisis is forced into poverty.
- Provide free Influenza vaccines to everyone on welfare and other vulnerable members of society, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Guarantee and subsidise two weeks of paid special leave for all workers, and those in high risk categories, who are forced to self-isolate or are impacted by business downturn or shutdown as a result of the pandemic.
- That State and Territory Governments introduce a moratorium on evictions and utility bills to ensure stable housing and services for those unable to work, further to this, rent assistance must be increased.
- Extend the census date for semester 1 and waive HECS fees for students who opt to cancel their enrolment.
- Commit to an immediate, untied, funding injection to the tertiary education sector.
- Amend immigration policy to allow international students affected by social distancing or changes to course delivery to shift to part-time study without any risk to their student visa.
Students and young people cannot continue to be left behind. This statement is endorsed by dozens of student representatives from around the country, representing hundreds of thousands of students whose livelihoods and futures are under threat. We are demanding action.
The government must finally take leadership during this crisis and support the Australians who have been forgotten. Workers, students, and young people need action to protect their income, housing, and study. To fail at this now will hurt this nation for years to come.
NUS National President,
Many students are seeking clarity around their Vocational Education courses. Yesterday, RMIT University has informed its staff, but not its students, of the following:
It is disappointing to see that once again, timely communication of vital information to students has not been seen as a priority for the university. This is just another example of how RMIT is unable to adequately balance the continuation of teaching activities alongside the transition to online learning.
This has gone far enough. RMIT must pause classes so that staff can properly prepare their courses for online delivery. Stop making students choose between their health and their education!
Yesterday, RMIT quietly updated its COVID-19 website with important information about the progressive transition to full online delivery of course content.
“RMIT University will begin to fully transition higher education courses to online delivery where possible for all our courses, to online delivery. This includes lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops. We’ll take a stepped approach to progressively transition, with all lectures online by Monday 23 March and all tutorials, seminars and workshops online by Monday 30 March.”
“The timing for this transition will differ slightly from course to course. Your Course Coordinator will be in touch to let you know when your classes will be available online.
Once lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops are offered online, you will need to study from home. These classes will be made available within Canvas at the scheduled date and time as per your existing timetable.”
Vocational Education students and those with specialist classes such as labs and studios remain somewhat in the dark, with the VC’s email stating that the transition will “vary by program, but we are actively working to find alternative solutions wherever possible to ensure teaching continuity.”
In regards to assessments that require students to be on campus, the FAQ also says that “We have adapted your learning so that all activities will take place on Canvas. This includes submitting assignments and completing assessments including quizzes and tests.”
The website also has a list of courses that have successfully implemented full or partial online delivery, but some courses remain missing.
While we are pleased to see that students have been offered some clarity around the future of their studies, it is disappointing to see that such important information has been so inadequately communicated to students.
With other platforms not being reliable sources for the most up-to-date information, we encourage all students to regularly check RMIT’s coronavirus website. You can find the link here: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/alerts
RMIT has finally communicated with students regarding recent COVID-19 related developments. While we at RUSU are pleased to see some clarity around a transition to online content delivery being in the works, it is very disappointing to see that the university has failed to pause all on-campus teaching as many other institutions have done, and as RUSU has called for.
There is zero clarity around time frames for the transition to online delivery, no information regarding the future of physical attendance requirements, and nothing on how this will affect courses that cannot be delivered online. Students continue to be left unsure of their immediate futures.
With classes continuing, students will feel compelled to attend them, and will continue to choose between their health and their education. While classes continue, RMIT continues to put their own staff at unnecessary risk and under additional pressure. This is not OK.
The health and safety of RMIT’s staff and students should be their number one priority. RMIT must put all teaching activities on hold to allow staff the time required to prepare courses for full online delivery, and to protect the health and safety of all members of the RMIT community.
You can find RMIT's latest update here: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/alerts/coronavirus…
Hi everyone, I'm Daniel, your RUSU President for 2020. I am writing to you all to offer a statement about the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, and what it means for RUSU's events and services.
For the time being, RMIT has directed us to cancel or postpone any events that are not related to academic study. All upcoming clubs events, fitness and dance classes, food events and any other Student Life and RUSU activities and events are now cancelled until further notice. What this means for RUSU in terms of our upcoming events is this:
- All free, healthy breakfasts have been cancelled until further notice.
- All Chill N Grill lunchtime events have been cancelled until further notice.
- Ticketed events (such as the RUSU Boat Cruise) have been cancelled, and refunds will be issued through Eventbrite.
- English conversation workshops have been cancelled until further notice.
Due to the cancellation of all events, the RUSU volunteer programme is now temporarily suspended. All training sessions and meetings have been cancelled - please do not attend any sessions or shifts.
All RUSU club events have been cancelled and RUSU has communicated with our club executives and will support them during this time.
This is a challenging time for our entire community, and while the above measures are understandably disappointing for those involved, these steps are necessary to help keep our students and community safe. I ask that you please remain up-to-date with the latest information and directives by regularly checking RMIT's COVID-19 updates page: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/alerts/coronavirus.
If you are impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions or self-isolation requirements, contact RMIT Connect via the RMIT COVID-19 phone line on +61 3 9925 5005 or the COVID-19 enquiry form.
And of course, if you feel unwell, please stay home and contact your doctor or call the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) dedicated hotline (1800 020 080).
RUSU Bundoora East Office will be closed until further notice. All Bundoora enquiries should be directed to our RUSU Bundoora West front counter, now open Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm. Building 202, Level 2, telephone: 9925 7226.
The RUSU student rights service and Compass are still here to assist you. We can best support you through telephone and email consultations. Please contact RUSU student rights at email@example.com and 99255004 or Compass at firstname.lastname@example.org or 99252785. Please do not attend any university services if you are unwell org have any symptoms of COVID-19, cold or flu.
We understand people are frustrated. This is a difficult time. It’s normal if you are feeling a little stressed. It’s important we take care of ourselves at this time. Look after your mates. If you need support, help is available from Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/…/looking-after-your-mental-h…. You can also contact RMIT Counselling: https://www.rmit.edu.au/…/suppo…/student-support/counselling.
We’ll be keeping you up to date with what RUSU is doing as the situation develops.
Take care, stay safe, and look out for each other.
While some classes at RMIT have already moved to fully online learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many classes continue as normal. The situation is developing at a fast pace, and while universities stay open and classes continue, they put students and staff at risk. RUSU calls on RMIT to follow the actions of institutions such as Swinburne, Monash, and La Trobe University and temporarily put all teaching activities on hold to allow RMIT staff adequate time to prepare courses for full online delivery, where possible. Students should not have to choose between their health and their education. RMIT must act swiftly to ensure the health and safety of all students.