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COVID-19: How are universities upping their game?
Roshna.Mohan

Roshna Mohan is a Content Writer at Hotcourses India - an IDP company. A post-graduate in Biotechnology, she chose content writing as her career out of sheer interest. Reading and cooking are her stress-busters. Talk about these to take the introvert out of the ambivert. Her all-time favourite authors are Paulo Coelho, Yuval Noah Harari and Robin Cook.

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26 May 2020 166 Book icon 5 mins Share

COVID-19: How are universities upping their game?

Universities are trying their best to engage with their students. Read what they are up to.

26 May 2020 166 Book icon 5 mins Share
COVID-19: How are universities upping their game?

It is evident that virtual is the way forward at least until things fall back to the normalcy that we are familiar with. Most of the universities have switched to the online mode of registration, admission, enrolment, and delivery of lectures. At a later stage, they might assess the impact of this change and decide whether to go forward with the virtual set up or go back to the traditional methods once the lockdown is lifted. For now, let us see what the universities are doing to communicate with the students and engage with them.

Frequent website updates

Most of the universities, like the University of East London the University of San Diego and the University of Waterloo depend largely on their website to provide information to their students. They have prioritised COVID-19 information and it has found its place as a header on the university websites. Some others have resorted to having a one-line re-directing link in the main page. Whatever be the case, if you are looking for COVID-19 related information, you’ll most probably be able to find a link to it in the homepage itself. Details about relaxed deadlines, when to expect latest updates, email addresses to raise queries, helpline numbers etc. are some common information that you can find in the COVID-19-specific page. 

We at IDP are doing our best to keep the students informed of any developments in the education sector. Check out the International Students News page for latest updates from governments and universities around the globe.

FAQ pages

Indeed, the universities have dedicated email addresses and phone numbers and officials at the other end to support you. However, considering the lack of clarity and frequent change in information, hundreds of people might reach out for help. An FAQ page can help settle most of the doubts. If you are in doubt about the impact on dates and deadlines, about the beginning of semesters and exam dates, just search for the FAQ page and you should be able to find an answer. If you would sign up for it, universities like the University of Toronto will send you alerts when there are new updates.

Universities conduct fairs, open days and tech fests to keep their students occupied and to ensure new enrolments. Well, it’s still happening, albeit virtually.

Virtual fairs and virtual open days for prospective students

Several universities are conducting virtual fairs and open days. If you are one of the students considering overseas education and would like to know more about your choice of university, you can visit their website and look out for virtual open days. For example, Middlesex university is conducting an undergraduate virtual open day for 4 hours on 10 June 2020. You will have the opportunity to talk to students and lecturers. There will be webinars about your subject with live chat rooms where you can attend group discussions or directly chat with tutors and students. Cardiff University has their next virtual open day on 3 July 2020 . You can attend the sessions and ask questions about accommodation and other support services. The University of Bedfordshire is working to offer Skype interviews to their applicants. You can refer to their application and admission guidance page for updates.

Virtual event by IDP

We at IDP are conducting virtual fairs to help you realise your overseas education dreams. You can choose among hundreds of universities across the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Fill in a few details and sign up for the virtual fair specific to your city and destination country.

Other online events

Virtual Q&A sessions, tech events, discussion forums, workshops, webinars – you name it and they are trying it out to keep their students engaged. The National university of Ireland conducted a series of Q&A sessions online to answer questions from the current and prospective students. You will still be able to access the questions and answers even though the events are over. One of Ireland’s biggest tech events called the AtlanTec Festival had gone virtual. It started on 18 May 2020 and continued for 5 days. 

Discussion forums are yet another sought out option for universities to connect with their students and faculty. The University of Toronto has partnered with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to conduct an online discussion forum where the university students can share stories about how they are dealing with the current situation. It offers a space for students to connect and provide support and encouragement. Students can sign up with their university email address to access these facilities.

The University of Auckland is conducting several events and activities including club activities, virtual fitness classes and refresher courses. Melbourne Institute of Technology is conducting a series of webinars. The one named ‘cycle of change’ aims to help the students prepare for these unusual times. Other webinars focus on budgeting, cybersecurity, and other wellbeing aspects.

Social media

Social media is an all-time popular platform considering a large number of youngsters actively using it. Universities are regularly updating information on their twitter handle, FB and Instagram pages. Most likely they will have one or two trending hashtags. Be sure to look out for them. The Federation University of Australia has a Facebook page for current students, called the FedUni Current Students. To keep track of their fitness challenges, you can follow their Instagram page, FedUni Sport. #FITATHOME, #KeepActiveStayConnected are some of their trending hashtags. Updates from Middlesex University, Cardiff University and the University of San Diego are some other universities that post on social media with the hashtags #teamMDX, #CardiffUni and #TorerosTogether respectively. 

Measures to help with academics

Libraries are an inevitable part of a college student’s life. The universities do understand this and hence they have come up with virtual libraries.
The University of Toronto has arranged facilities to have discussions with the librarian and to do research. They are partnering with other digital libraries to give students access to millions of books.

Trinity is also giving remote access to licensed electronic resources.

The University of Auckland is giving access to digital collections (books, journals, databases, newspapers) and these are available online.

Not many would have had the time to copy their files and documents saved on the official desktops. Universities like the University of Otago and the University of Canterbury have made arrangements for students and faculty to remotely access their desktops.

Apps and video communication platforms

The University of Otago is using Echo360, the smart video platform for higher education. They also have a quick start guide on their website. They are also relying on Moodle, an online course management system. The University of Alberta is using Hangouts Meet. They also use a centrally supported learning management system called eClass (Moodle). The University of Waterloo is using YouTube as a platform for uploading their videos that help with mental health support.

Universities that are slowly opening their gates to students would also have to rely on apps to make a smooth and healthy transition. Lincoln University will be relying on the OnSide app at a later stage to manage visitors, for biosecurity, health and safety. They have QR codes in place currently, which the students will have to scan at the entrance of each building. The campus opened on 18 May 2020. The University of Waikato is also introducing a QR code system to keep track of the whereabouts of the students, staff and visitors within the campus.

It is noteworthy that universities are focusing on the mental wellbeing of their students. universities like the University of Bedfordshire, Lincoln University and the University of Auckland like many others are providing counselling and mental health support.

We are here to support you

Universities are exploring all possible platforms, new and old, to engage with students and communicate with them. They are ever ready to help you with their queries and concerns. IDP would also like to work in tandem to offer you the best guidance and support. Our study abroad experts are ready to answer all your queries on overseas education. Please write to us at va-counselors@idp.com or call us at 18001032581.

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