As we come to the end of this historic Semester, I send my best wishes to those of you who are about to start exams in the coming fortnight.
It certainly has been a semester like no other!
I am especially mindful that those of you who started with us in February have had a most unusual introduction to University life. Thankfully with COVID-19 restrictions easing, we will be able to able to welcome you back in Semester 2 with more face-to-face classes and activities.
The safety of our students and staff remains our number one priority and Flinders University will continue to operate in line with COVID-19 health guidelines. This of course brings with it some challenges in ensuring we can maintain appropriate physical distancing in our teaching spaces and other facilities.
On the positive side, it also has prompted us to provide students with greater flexibility in learning and accessing support which many of you indicated has been a positive outcome of the recent move to online teaching. We are continuing to deliver our services online, as well as restarting face-to-face and we will have a blend of face-to-face and online teaching for Semester 2.
Semester 2 Teaching
All lectures will remain online in Semester 2, but smaller group teaching such as tutorials, as well as practical and laboratory work will re-commence face-to-face in COVID-Safe environments, with online options available in many cases.
The scheduling of rooms for these face-to-face classes is still being completed in some areas, so you may see gaps in your Semester 2 timetable whilst class delivery details are being finalised. To help us plan these classes (either face-to-face and/or online), it is important to enrol in Semester 2 topics as soon as possible, if you haven’t done so already. I also encourage you to register in classes if they are currently available for your topics.
If you need support with enrolment, Flinders Connect is available to help you online or over the phone.
Please be aware that a very small number of classes may be subject to change once delivery details are finalised and you will be informed if this is the case. All details will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Please continue to check your student email and Ping! for updates.
I appreciate your ongoing patience during this challenging time. As you know the health advice is subject to frequent change, and our staff have been working hard to provide a seamless experience for you, in line with health guidelines.
Support and Services
We are looking forward to a greater return to campus-based activity in the coming weeks with Semester 2 Orientation for new students, and in welcoming our continuing students back to campus.
As we move to a ‘new normal’ I would like to remind you that our Flinders Support Network advisors are still available to talk through the wide range of support available to help you achieve success. Please reach out to the support network, should you need to.
Federal Government Proposed Changes to HECS fees
You may have heard today that the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, announced a draft proposal for changes to the ‘HECS’ fee, as well as changes to the amount the government contributes to universities for each Commonwealth Supported student.
He also announced an overall increase in the number of places over the coming three years so more Australian students can benefit from a university education, especially those from regional and rural areas. The increase in access is a welcome initiative.
You can read more about the announcement on the Federal department’s website here.
The changes to the funding and fees are complex and as yet, only proposed, but they would mean that some students would pay more for their course and some students would pay less. The proposed changes would need to be passed by Parliament before they could take effect.
We will look closely at the details of the package as they emerge in coming weeks, but from what we know to date, students who have commenced their course would not be moved into the higher fee ‘band’ until 2024 if they stay enrolled. If the new fee is lower, they would be charged the lower fee from 2021.
The important thing for you at this point in time is that there is no effect on the HECS fees for topics you enrol in this year. If there is a change, we will let you know.
In the meantime, I wish you a successful completion of your studies this semester and I look forward to seeing you in second semester.
Professor Clare Pollock
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students)