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Student support during COVID-19

Our community, like others around the world, is adapting to the impacts of COVID-19.

As the University responds to COVID-19, we know that you too are facing your own challenges and having to find ways to adapt how you live and how you study.

There are a range of supports available to you, and we have dedicated support officers ready to help.

Our priorities are your safety and wellbeing, and helping you continue to learn. You might find the answer to some of your questions in the frequently asked questions below, and if not please reach out to us by by email at COVIDsupport@utas.edu.au or phone us on 1300 826 663 or +61 3 6226 2600.

Frequently asked questions

I am experiencing financial difficulty – who can I contact for help?

We know many jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 and we want to ensure our students have options. Below are a list of grants open to apply for students:

If you find yourself struggling financially, remember you can also talk through your options with a financial counsellor.

Will the University offer discounts for course fees or accommodation?

With our focus being to provide high quality online learning, we're not offering discounts for tuition fees and accommodation. However we are offering the option to enter a payment plan, as well as financial grants via our Safety Net Grant Scheme.

If you are living in UTAS accommodation you can request a flexible payment plan for your accommodation costs by speaking with your accommodation team.

We have extended the deadline for the Last Withdrawal without Fail to 31 May 2020. This means if you withdraw from a Semester 1 subject before 31 May you will not fail it and you will be able to undertake the unit again in the future at no extra cost.

Given the move to online learning, will the University now refund the Student Services and Administration Fee (SSAF)?

During this difficult time we are providing ongoing and high quality student support across a wide range of services. SSAF is crucial funding that enables us to provide those services to you. Some of these services include; financial support, accommodation support, legal services and wellbeing services. Find out more on our website.

Rent relief package

The Tasmanian Government has established a COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund of targeted support of up to $2000 or four weeks rent.
As well as tenants covered by the Residential Tenancy Act 1997, those tenants who rent rooms, are part of a share-house or are sub-tenants will also be eligible for assistance. The fund is available to migrants and temporary visa holders.

The eligibility criteria for the payment is:

  • Experiencing coronavirus-specific hardship
  • Paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent
  • Have less than $5000 in savings
  • People who aren't eligible for JobKeeper or JobSeeker

The Government has also put a halt on rental evictions, restrictions on inspections to support social distancing and a ban on rental increases during the emergency period.

Applications open on May 25 via the Communities Tasmania through Housing Connect.

What online IT support is there for me?

To help you transition to online learning, the following support is available:

What if I don't have access to the Internet at home?

Some phone providers are offering additional data on existing pre and post-paid mobile phone accounts during COVID-19: TelstraOptusVodafone. You may be able to hotspot from your phone to your computer if you have reasonable coverage. Contact the IT Service Desk If you need assistance setting this up at home.

The Safety Net Grant Scheme is available to provide immediate financial support for technology needs.

Where can I buy low cost student computers?

The University is currently working with Dell to provide options for low cost laptops. Refurbished laptops are currently available to buy and we will continue to work with Dell to provide options for new low cost laptops.

There are also several suppliers that have low cost laptops available for purchase locally or online:

If you are purchasing a Windows based computer, please ensure it has the Windows 10 or Windows 10 Pro version of the operating system and not Windows 10 S.

How do I use Web Conferencing in MyLO and Zoom?

Watch the step-by-step video guide to Zoom.

Can I go on campus?

For the second half of 2020 learning, research and teaching will continue online as it has been in recent weeks.

As COVID-19 government restrictions are eased, we have developed a framework so we can stage a return to activities on campus as guidelines allow us to do so. You can view more detail around these timelines in the UTAS staged return to campus booklet.

From May 18, some essential campus activities will return to campus. Students and HDR candidates who are required to be on campus will be individually invited by their unit coordinators/supervisors.

All students and candidates returning to campus will be required to complete a re-induction module addressing social distancing and hygiene requirements and visit a health screening point, which are being set up at campus entry points.

Complete the re-induction module

From Monday, 18 May, Morris Miller Library at Sandy Bay campus will have restricted access of 10 people at a time. To ensure equitable access we have implemented a booking system and allocated each student 1-4 hrs a week to collect library resources, use a computer or brief study time. Updates for other University libraries will be coming soon. Head to the library website for more information.

A full and comprehensive list of building closures, accessible space (such as computer labs and research facilities) is available in this handy booklet.

I need to use computer labs and study spaces.

Some computer labs and study spaces are still open, however people must be at least 1.5 metres apart. We have a limited number of used laptops and PC’s available for loan to students.

Computer labs that are still available for general use are:

*All students have swipe access to the above labs. A full list of accessible spaces is available in this handy booklet.

Printing: Other printing options include: Mercury Walch (Hobart), Burnie Print 'n' Design and Print Domain (Burnie). These providers have either pick up or postal options.

What about my exams, assessments and graduations?

We are working toward a flexible approach to assessments to ensure no student will be disadvantaged. To alleviate some of the concerns you may have we have implemented the following measures:

Assessments: To help ease this pressure certificates and extensions will not be required for late submissions of assessments of up to five working days beyond the due date.

Exams: For Semester 1, 2020, exams will be delivered online or will be replaced by alternative options. These changes will be communicated to you by your unit coordinator.

Fail grades: Fail grades will not be recorded on student transcripts for Semester 1, 2020 (with the exception of those imposed as a result of a breach of academic integrity)This also means that fail grades will not impact on your grade point average.

Graduations: If you are set to graduate this year, you will be able to, however the manner in which you graduate may be different.
We understand the deep disappointment graduating students and their families might feel about this news. We share your disappointment. All graduates will have the option of doing a walk-through at a future ceremony.

  • Winter Graduations: due to current restrictions, our Winter Graduations, scheduled for August 2020 in Hobart and Launceston have been cancelled. Graduates will receive their academic documents by mail.
  • Summer Graduations: At this stage it is too early to say whether our Summer Round of ceremonies in December will go ahead. We are monitoring both the Australian and Tasmanian Governments’ advice to inform our decision making.

Withdraw arrangement: The Last Withdrawal without Fail deadline has been extended to 31 May 2020. This means if you withdraw from a Semester 1 subject before 31 May you will not fail it and you will be able to undertake the unit again in the future at no extra cost until the end of 2021.

Ungraded Pass (UP): If you have consistently high results that you want to use in the future and this has been affected because of COVID-19, you can opt to convert a unit grade (i.e. pass, credit) to an Ungraded Pass. What this means is that the unit will count toward you degree as usual, but the grade results won't impact your overall Grade Point Average (GPA).
You can apply on the results page in the Student Portal.

I need access to books and journals.

We know how important it is for students to be able to access their study materials and we want to make this easy for you.

Our Library resources remain available online. If the books or journals you need aren’t available electronically, you can request scanned copies of chapters and/or extracts which we will email to you. Simply fill out the request form and select Scan and Attach to email as your delivery option.

What online study support can I access?

  • 24/7 study help is an online 24-hour support service to give you feedback on your writing or help with a study question. Connect on MyLO via your subject units.
  • For PASS-supported units, your PASS Leader has set up a discussion board in your MyLO unit.
  • Join in Student Learning webinars
  • Career Connect is continuing to offer services online including: job application reviews, resume building, mock interviews and information sessions and workshops.
  • Drop In for support and connection to our learning services, Monday to Friday 11am- 2pm.
  • Online support services are available via Appointment Hub. You can talk on the phone or online with:
    • Career counselling
    • Disability Advisers
    • International Student Advisers
    • Personal Counsellors
    • Student Advisers
    • Student Learning Advisers
    • Student Learning Librarians

What about my wellbeing and mental health?

We understand that this might be a troubling time for you and may impact your health and general wellbeing. Confidential and free counselling is available through our counselling services. You can make an appointment through:

  1. AppointmentHub
  2. or call 1800 817 675 between 8:45am and 5:00pm Mon-Fri.
  3. Outside of business hours, please contact our University Help Line on 1300 511 709 or text on +61 488 884 168.

Free wellbeing resources

For general health the University has contacted doctors in each region to ensure their capacity and willingness to assist our students. If you are having any difficulties seeking medical advice and need support, please contact our COVID-19 helpline 1300 826 663 or +61 3 6226 2600 or by email COVIDsupport@utas.edu.au

Discover ways to wellbeing with a range of sessions running online that are free for UTAS students.

You can also make a appointment with a Disability Advisor to talk about any disability or health condition that impacts on your ability to study via Appointment Hub

Staying connected and active

Online events program

Setting up your desk

Now you're studying entirely online, it's a good idea to set up your study-station to suit your tasks. Watch this Ergonomics expert explain how to set up your desk video.

Here are a list of things to consider:

  • Height of your desk should be between 680-720mm and eyes looking at the top third of the screen
  • Place keyboard, mouse and other controls within easy reach of the body
  • Elbows to be bent at 90º, forearms parallel with the floor, wrist straight, shoulders relaxed and feet flat on the floor
  • If working on a laptop – consider raising it up and use an external mouse and keyboard

Health Apps and resources

Will I have to leave UTAS accommodation?

Students accommodation remains open for all students wanting to stay. In some areas we may ask students to switch rooms in order to respond to emerging issues and ensure that we are able to comply with physical distancing or quarantine requirements.

If I choose to leave and return home to my family will I have to continue paying rent?

If any resident feels that the best place for their health and well-being is at home with their family, then that is where they should be. Residents are free to vacate their accommodation and rent will cease immediately – notice periods will be waived, and bonds can be left in credit for your next booking or refunded to you.

If I choose to stay in my UTAS accommodation will I be safely isolated from any potential COVID-19 cases?

The care and safety of our residents is our number one priority. We are following government and public health advice to ensure that physical distancing is maintained across our facilities. This advice is constantly monitored and our practices are updated as required.

We have identified areas across our facilities where anyone required to quarantine or self- isolate can do so safely and without contact with other residents.

Is it safe for me to use communal spaces?

At this time our residential kitchens remain open for residents to use in accordance with physical  distancing guidelines of at least 1.5 metres from another person. We are investigating potential catering solutions that may be provided if the kitchens close.

I am having difficulty paying rent, what should I do?

If you are living in UTAS accommodation you can request a flexible payment plan for your accommodation costs by speaking with your accommodation team.

Can I have my old room back when I return?

We always try our hardest to meet room preferences, however we cannot always guarantee the same room. If you are vacating as a result of COVID-19, we will offer you priority for re-application for Semester 2. This means you will get a priority offer for your first preference.

When will applications for accommodation open for semester 2?

Semester 2 applications for accommodation will be open after Easter. You will be contacted via email to advise you on the exact date.

Will I be charged another $150 holding fee?

If you have vacated as a result of COVID-19 and you are re-applying, we will not charge you another $150 holding fee for re-application.

Helpful graduate research resources

What financial support is available for postgraduate students?

Our new Fast Track Safety Net Grant Scheme can provide immediate grants of up to $350 for support with living costs and study resources.

Further financial support is available through our existing Safety Net Grant Scheme, which offers discretionary grants of up to $2,000. This funding does not need to be repaid – it is designed to provide emergency assistance to students who experience unexpected financial difficulties which make it hard for them to continue with their studies.

The COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund can help renters in the private market. If you find yourself struggling financially, you can also talk through your options with a financial counsellor.

Can I still carry out my practical and lab work?

We understand the importance of your practical research and you will be supported to carry out this work where at all possible.

From May 18, some essential campus activities will return to campus. HDR candidates who are required to be on campus will be individually invited by their unit supervisors and will be required to complete a re-induction module addressing social distancing and hygiene requirements and visit a health screening point, which are being set up at campus entry points.

Complete the re-induction module

Some buildings and facilities are temporarily closed – please contact your supervisor to discuss access to labs and other facilities. A full list of building closures, accessible space (such as computer labs and research facilities) and a safe working guide for those coming on campus is available in this handy booklet.

Can I continue with my research project?

Research can continue for the majority of our candidates. We encourage you to remain closely connected with your supervisory team, and to discuss any impacts on your research progress.

Depending on the nature of your research project, and the stage of your candidature progression, aspects of your research plan may be disrupted. For example, you may need to apply for modifications to your ethics approval, or you may need to defer field work or laboratory work. This may mean that you will need to adapt your research plan to ensure that you remain productive while unable to access facilities.

Tasks which you could perhaps do remotely include:

  • Continuing or finalising your literature review
  • writing and revising chapter drafts
  • developing papers for publication
  • undertaking professional development
  • analyzing existing data sets

How can I contact the Graduate Research Office?

You can reach us at:

Full list of Frequently Asked Questions

I am experiencing financial difficulty – who can I contact for help?

We know many jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 and we want to ensure our students have options. Below are a list of grants open to apply for students:

If you find yourself struggling financially, remember you can also talk through your options with a financial counsellor.

Can I get assistance to pay my rent?

The Tasmanian Government has established a COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund of targeted support of up to $2000 or four weeks rent.
As well as tenants covered by the Residential Tenancy Act 1997, those tenants who rent rooms, are part of a share-house or are sub-tenants will also be eligible for assistance. The fund is available to migrants and temporary visa holders.

The eligibility criteria for the payment is:

  • Experiencing coronavirus-specific hardship
  • Paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent
  • Have less than $5000 in savings
  • People who aren't eligible for JobKeeper or JobSeeker

The Government has also put a halt on rental evictions, restrictions on inspections to support social distancing and a ban on rental increases during the emergency period.

Applications open on May 25 via the Communities Tasmania through Housing Connect.

Can I get help to return home?

The Tasmanian Government are offering support to return to country of origin for temporary visa holders. Applications close on 23 May, 2020 details can be found on the temporary visa holders website.

Some countries are offering assistance packages to return home. Ensure you are registered with your countries embassy and /or High Commission in Australia so you receive all the relevant information for you. Find the contact details for your embassy or High Commission on the Consulates of Australia website.

What financial support is available to help me access online study from overseas?

Students who are currently located offshore and are affected by travel bans may apply for Online Study Access Assistance to assist with the costs of obtaining mobile broadband internet access. Mobile broadband internet access has been tested as being the most reliable method of connecting to our online learning platform, MyLO.

This assistance is to the value of A$500 and may be used to cover the costs of mobile internet access or related costs in gaining access to our MyLO Learning Management system.

To be eligible, students must be impacted by the travel ban, and be having difficulties connecting to our MyLO platform. Please email TravelBan.Assistance@utas.edu.au and provide your Student ID Number, a brief outline of the difficulties you have experienced in accessing MyLO, and a receipt outlining costs incurred in gaining access to the internet.

We will assess requests until 31 May, 2020, and if approved a one-off A$500 discount will be applied to your Semester 1 tuition fees.

I am a student in China. What financial support is available for me?

Students who have incurred additional costs in travelling from mainland China to Australia may apply for our Travel Ban Financial Hardship Grant to cover part of these costs. The Grant is designed to assist students experiencing financial hardship with:

  • Costs associated with travel from mainland China to Australia
  • Accommodation, transport or other costs associated with changes to your original itinerary

The grant is a one-off payment (not a loan) to the value of A$1,500. Please email TravelBan.Assistance@utas.edu.au and provide your Student ID Number, a brief outline of your circumstances and evidence of the additional expenses you have incurred in getting to Australia.

We will assess requests on a case-by-case basis until 31 May, 2020.  If approved, a one-off A$1,500 discount will be applied to your Semester 1 tuition fees.

I'm a student in China. How do I access online study?

The University has established a third-party Virtual Private Network (VPN) which provides you and all other current students in China with access to the University’s My Learning Online (MyLO) system.

Instructions are detailed in Technical FAQs for students in China [PDF 196.4 KB]

Apps and resources