We are here to stay

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NOT GOING ANYWHERE… Head of campus at La Trobe University, Shepparton, Elizabeth Capp sets out some of the changes taking place. Photo: Steve Hutcheson

Across Australia, the country is in a developing and constantly changing state of flux. This is the new normal.

Much like it has been for small business that have been obliged to shut down, universities around the country are no different and are in fact, feeling the pressure from the exclusion of a great number of international students.

Elizabeth Capp, head of campus at La Trobe University Shepparton  provided clarity to their position, “We are not going anywhere. This pandemic has caused us to look at the way we work and build on the short-term changes we have had to introduce.

“Almost all of our classes are being conducted online other than for things like clinical lab sessions and as we look into the future, there is potential for us to expand our reach with the online classes.’

This week has seen several universities reporting financial difficulties. Unlike the larger institutes, La Trobe University in Shepparton has a very small number of international undergraduates, the student base is mainly local with their core faculties in health services, business and social welfare courses.

La Trobe University along with Melbourne University are key players in the expansion processes of health service providers such as GV Health which is planning on an additional 500 or more staff as the new stages of the hospital comes online.

“We remain very focused on the community workforce.” said Elizabeth.

While students are doing their classes online, it has also brought into focus their individual difficulties. Some have small children to look after, others were dependent on casual jobs that have now gone and a whole raft of difficulties that the community is experiencing.

“Just recently, we conducted a ring-around campaign to check up on all  the students, to ascertain how they were coping and where we could help. We had great support from the University, our alumni and philanthropists and even the staff in helping with some of their issues such as access to laptops.”

“We will have to pivot to adjust out of this. No one knows how long the restrictions now in place will remain but we look forward to the opportunities it presents in how we move into the future and  the future is clear on one thing, La Trobe is here to stay.