Skip to main content
News_

Media statement: response to novel coronavirus

Risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remains low
Latest updates for journalists about our response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) and how we are supporting our community.

Update: 5:30pm Tuesday 18 February 2020

University of Sydney study options for students affected by the travel ban

The University of Sydney today confirmed there are more than 800 Units of Study across many programs available for online supported learning for part or all of Semester 1. 

This information is now available on our website to help students plan the study options that suit them best.  

Options for affected students include:

  • Remain in China for all of Semester 1 and choose up to four units that offer full semester online supported learning. 
    These units will allow students to take a full semester of online supported learning. Lectures, tutorials and assessments will take place online for the majority of these units. Students will still be able to join an on-campus class if they are able to arrive in Sydney during semester. If there is an ‘in person component of study’ they will be able complete it once they are able to attend on campus, and prior to the commencement of Semester 2. This information will be updated on the Canvas page for each unit.
  • Commence studying up to four units in China with part-semester online supported learning and join classes on campus once travel restrictions are lifted. 
    For these units, the first five weeks will be delivered online. Students will need to attend in-person classes on campus in Sydney by week 6, Monday 30 March to complete the remainder of the unit and have it counted towards their degree. These units may require students to sit exams in person, attend laboratory sessions and/or undertake practical assessments at our campus in Sydney.
  • Students can choose to withdraw from a unit or defer their studies by 31 March 2020 and enrol again in a later semester. There will be no fee to defer or withdraw.

Courses with a delayed start
In a small number of courses the start of Semester 1 has been delayed by two weeks to begin on 9 March. This does not mean a later finish date. Classes will conclude at the normal time for exams, and students will not be at any disadvantage.  If a course has a delayed start, students will have received communication from their faculty directly. 

Online supported learning
In most units, lectures will be recorded and made available for download using ECHO360, Zoom will be used to support tutorials, and Canvas will be used to share learning resources. The University is also putting solutions in place to improve the access experience for online materials from within China. More detail on the tools and resources for online supported learning will be available on the Canvas page for each unit.

As we prepare for classes to begin next week, we ask our students in China to stay strong. They are very much part of our community and we hope to be able to welcome them to Sydney in person soon.

Update: 11am Friday 14 February 2020

Today the University of Sydney issued a statement, following yesterday's announcement that Australia would extend entry restrictions for a further week from 15 February.

The full statement reads:

"The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority. Since the outbreak occurred, we’ve been closely monitoring the situation, liaising with other universities and taking advice from the federal government and NSW Department of Health to help mitigate the impact of this terrible situation on all our students, both here in Australia and those still in China.

We remain committed to supporting our students still in China with their studies during this uncertain time. We are working to enable options to enrol in Units of Study that will provide online supported learning for the first five weeks of Semester in some programs, and the whole of Semester in others. These options will allow students to join classes in person on campus when the ban is lifted.

Units of study that are able to offer online supported learning will be available on Tuesday on our website. Students in China also have the option of withdrawing or deferring without penalty until March 31.

For our other students it is business as usual. All courses are set to begin on the first day of our semester (24 February, 2020) apart from our Master of Commerce and Master of Professional Accounting which have both been delayed for two weeks till 9 March.

Today, we’ll also inform students five additional specialist postgraduate Business programs will also be delayed for two weeks until 9 March.

Our international students are wonderful ambassadors for Sydney and Australia both back in their home countries and around the world. We value and are proud of all the contributions they make to the academic and cultural life of the University and we encourage everyone to continue to be respectful and compassionate during this difficult time."

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence wrote to all staff and affected students in China on 14 February 2020. 


Update: 4pm Friday 7 February 2020

Today Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence wrote to staff and international students about the work we are doing to help those unable to join us on campus for the start of semester 1 – including remote study options for as many programs as possible and special study arrangements.

His full message to students is here, and to staff here


Update: 11.30am  Thursday 6 February 2020

Last night Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence wrote to all University of Sydney staff and our students in China, informing them:

  • the last date students need to be on campus to join classes has been extended to 30 March
  • we are exploring alternate commencement dates for a small number of post-graduate programs
  • we're working to confirm remote teaching arrangements where feasible 
  • we have launched a hotline to provide advice and support. 

Read his full message here.


Update: 4pm Monday 3 February 2020

Today Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence wrote to all staff, to advise them that Semester 1 will commence on 24 February as planned. 

Read his full message here.


Update: 8.45pm Saturday 1 February 2020

We note the announcement made today about entry restrictions to Australia and are considering its implications. The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority. Since the outbreak occurred, we’ve been closely monitoring the situation, liaising with other universities and taking advice from the federal government and NSW Department of Health.

A high-level staff response team has been convened to monitor and manage the situation on a daily basis.  

We’ve been communicating directly with students (current and commencing) who may have been in the affected regions. We have asked them to provide us with an update on their circumstances and offered support.

Last week we announced that we had implemented the following measures:

  • Stopped all student and non-essential staff travel to China and Hong Kong until further notice;
  • Allowed all affected students the flexibility to enrol up to two weeks after the start of semester (by day 1 of week 3, Monday 9 March) unless there are exceptional circumstances which would prevent them from completing the course; and
  • Offered commencing students who have been impacted and unable to travel to commence their studies the option to defer or have their fees refunded.

We’re working to ensure disruptions to all of our students, both commencing and continuing, are minimised as far as possible - including looking carefully at the viability of offering online lectures as one option for students in China.

We will continue communicating with our students and staff on our approach, including available support, throughout this unsettling period.


Update: 12 noon Thursday 30 January 2020

Further to yesterday’s update, our recent correspondence with all staff and current and commencing students also provides revised health advice in line with the updated guidance for universities provided by the federal Department of Health

In particular:

  • Students who have recently travelled to Hubei Province or have been in contact with a person infected with novel coronavirus virus must self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the province or having had contact with an infected person. We will be contacting these students to offer support.
  • Self-quarantine does not currently apply to university students arriving from the rest of China or any other country unless they are unwell or have had contact with a person who has been infected.

We continue to advise our community to follow the basic hygiene guidelines provided by the NSW Health fact sheet and to refer to guidance provided by the federal government Department of Health

Staff requiring additional assistance or arrangements should talk to their manager as these will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Staff can also access our Employee Assistance Program for support if needed.


Update: 4.20pm Wednesday 29 January 2020

The University of Sydney will write to all staff and current and commencing students, providing an update on precautionary measures we are taking in response to the novel coronavirus.

We note the current risk to staff and students in Sydney remains low, however the safety of our staff and students is our priority.

Key updates for our community are:

  • Following Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advice to reconsider travel to China, there will be no student or non-essential staff travel to China and Hong Kong until further notice (transiting via Hong Kong airport is considered safe).
  • All affected students will be allowed to enrol up to two weeks after the start of semester (by day 1 of week 3, Monday 9 March) unless there are exceptional circumstances which would prevent them from completing the course.
  • Commencing students who have been impacted and are unable to travel to commence their studies will have the option to defer or have their fees refunded.
  • We will try and support any continuing student who is able to demonstrate that their studies have been constrained by being unable to leave the Hubei province or coming into contact with an affected person. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis to support students in these circumstances.

Our community should continue to follow the basic hygiene guidelines provided by the NSW Health fact sheet and continue to refer to guidance provided by the federal government Department of Health

Staff requiring additional assistance or arrangements should talk to their manager as these will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Staff can also access our Employee Assistance Program for support if needed.


University of Sydney statement: Tuesday 28 January 2020

The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority.

We’re closely monitoring the situation, liaising with other universities and taking advice from the Australian Government and NSW Department of Health. A high-level staff response team has been convened to monitor and manage the situation on a daily basis.  

Since the outbreak occurred, we’ve been communicating directly with students (current and commencing) who may have been in the affected regions. We have asked them to provide us with an update on their circumstances and have offered support.

Students still in China have been asked to follow the advice of the Chinese Government and to avoid travel if they are ill. We have assured them that we will support them if they are unable to travel to Sydney in time for the start of semester one on 24 February 2020.

We are currently assessing a range of different enrolment options and more information about those options will be released soon.

We have advised staff and students to avoid travelling to the Hubei province until further notice and are assessing options for students due to commence placement or study exchanges to China in semester one.

On campus, staff at our University Health Service have been providing advice and support. As NSW Health has directed, students or staff who are feeling unwell are being advised to phone a general practitioner or their local hospital for information and not to visit in person.

We’ve also reminded staff and students to follow the basic hygiene advice below to stay healthy:

  • Using soap or alcohol-based hand wash frequently and washing hands for at least 20 seconds each time;
  • Covering their mouth or nose if sneezing or coughing with a flexed elbow and disposing of tissues immediately,
  • Avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell, including avoiding areas where there are people sneezing
  • Not attending study or work if they’re unwell.

28 January 2020

Student enquiries

Phone
Email

Media queries