Monash University amends 2020 timetable amid COVID-19 confusion

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BY LAURA McFADZEAN and LAURA PLACELLA

Monash University has announced a revised semester one timetable, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes see an altered SWOT-VAC period, census date and semester length.

Semester one has been extended to accommodate a replacement week two, which now begins March 23. Classes were initially suspended for week two – which was due to start Monday March 16 – as the potentially deadly virus took hold around the state.

Monash University also restored SWOT-VAC to five days, after lowering it to an unprecedented three days. Census date is now April 14.

Monash University’s revised semester dates for 2020. Source: Monash University.

In a statement, Monash Student Association (MSA) wrote the university’s decision was made to counter ongoing confusion and stress about education delivery within the student body.

“Moving the census date, and reorganising [the] semester to accomodate a properly taught week two is essential for students to achieve their best academic outcomes,” the statement read.

The MSA understood Monash’s changes to education-delivery as a necessary measure amid a global pandemic, but “the abrupt nature and design of the changes has left many [students] puzzled”.

Monash Stalkerspace was inundated with confusion about a repeated week two. Source: Facebook.

MSA President James McDonald said it was difficult to predict if the semester dates would change again, due to the “rapidly evolving” COVID-19 crisis.

“MSA will continue to work with the university to ensure that students’ best interests are always considered when changing dates and we’ll continue communicating [these changes] directly to students if they do come,” Mr McDonald said.

Monash’s Clayton campus resembles a ghost town after classes were suspended amid the pandemic. Photo: Laura McFadzean

Monash University also announced disrupted semester one practicals, labs, applied labs and studios would “potentially” be taught intensively over six weeks at the conclusion of the year. 

Third-year fine arts/arts student Sofie Larkin believes it will be a short course of some kind “to make sure certain skills are learnt”.

“I’m sure [the university] has considered every option to be honest, but I’m not sure what it means for my graduation,” Ms Larkin said.

“I hope I’ll still be able to graduate [at the] end of the year.”

Students turn to social media to share confusion over the university’s changing dates. Source: Monash Stalkerspace, Facebook

Monash University has also opted to alter semester two dates to “enable the full 12-week teaching and learning load to be maintained”.

Third-year commerce/arts student Marion Tiong may have to cancel her flights to Phuket because of the new semester two exam period.

“I was only offered one free date change for my July holidays, so I changed it to November 21st due to work commitments in December,” Ms Tiong said.

“If I get an exam on the last week of the new exam period (9-27th Nov) then I’ll be losing $1500.”

Key semester one dates are now as follows:
Monday 23 March – Week two learning activities completed
Monday 30 March – Week three commences
Monday 13 April – Mid-semester break commences
Tuesday 14 April – New census date (previously 31 March)
Monday 15 June – Swot Vac commences (back to five full days)
Monday 22 June – Semester one remote exams commence (until 11 July)

More information can be found here: Monash COVID-19 fact sheet.