A University of Tasmania team is working to bring student life streaming back onto campuses next year.
The task of timetabling for 2021 is well underway, overlaid this year with strong COVID-19 safe protocols and tested outbreak management plans.
“We are absolutely committed to having our students back on campus next year, knowing that we can do so safely and that it is a central part of the university experience,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black said.
“This has been a challenging year for our students. We know they have been feeling dislocated and isolated, and we admire how they and their families have navigated what has been a difficult year for us all.
“Being around others, forming new friendships and rekindling old ones, and exploring new ideas together are vital parts of the university experience. Offering this experience to our students – safely – is a priority.”
The University will create new social hubs on each campus, and additional activities will include food and market stalls.
In Hobart, the University has secured additional floor space in the KPMG building in the Hobart CBD - and is looking at another option which is yet to be finalised - to ensure enough teaching space is available given social distancing is likely to continue well into 2021.
“We’ve done detailed analysis on what we will need to teach in a COVID-safe way,” Professor Black said. “We couldn’t meet our new space requirements within our existing operations, and the city had available capacity.”
The University owns inner-city properties it intends to develop as part of a future CBD campus. However, plans for that development were paused due to COVID-19 and the current buildings are not fit for purpose without significant refurbishment.
“From Semester 1, we will have between 300 to 400 additional students and 50 more staff operating out of the Central Business District.
“They will be in modern, fit-for-purpose teaching spaces and it will provide a real shot in the arm for the inner city, especially for those small retail and hospitality traders who have been doing it especially tough this year,” Professor Black said.
“We know from the experience of our students at the Medical Science Precinct, Domain, Media School and IMAS that they enjoy being part of the life of the city.”
The University has existing frequent Metro links between the city and its Sandy Bay campus, to support students and mitigate demand on traffic and parking in the city.
“We have achieved a great deal this year as we navigated uncertain times, thanks to the collective effort of every person in our institution,” Professor Black said. “For that, we are deeply thankful.
“Because of it, we go into next year bringing our campuses back to life and facing 2021 with a great deal more clarity than we’ve operated with this year.”