As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, RMIT remains committed to supporting our staff and students at home and overseas.
The health, safety and wellbeing of the RMIT community is our absolute priority and we are continuing to take advice and guidance from the relevant authorities.
We ask our community to please follow the clear, expert advice available, so we can all play our part in containing the transmission of COVID-19.
For information about confirmed cases of COVID-19 on RMIT campuses view our latest statement.
Following updated advice from the Victorian Government, Stage 3: Stay at Home restrictions have returned for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to stem the transmission of COVID-19. These restrictions come into effect at midnight tomorrow (Wednesday 8 July) and will remain in place until at least 19 August.
Importantly, as part of this update, the Premier made it clear that going to work or study remain as permitted reasons for residents in these locations to leave their homes. These reasons apply equally for people needing to enter metropolitan Melbourne.
In line with government advice and our own risk assessments, we have made the decision to proceed as planned with the scheduled return to campus of essential practical based activities that cannot be completed remotely to support student learning progression. This means that for the vast majority (over 95%) of our staff and students, they will continue to work and study remotely.
Only staff and students that have been approved to return to campus will be granted access.
In line with Stage 3 restrictions there will be no non-essential activity on campus including community sport, club activities or off-campus excursions. Further information will be communicated tomorrow to staff and students.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students remain our number one priority so it is essential that you do not come to campus if you are feeling unwell and we encourage you to have a COVID-19 test.
In line with our COVIDSafe plan, we have a number of enhanced safety measures and protocols in place:
The safety and wellbeing of staff and students on our Brunswick campus is our highest priority and in line with our COVIDSafe Plan we are putting in place enhanced safety measures so students and staff currently attending campus may feel confident to continue doing so as scheduled.
On 22 March, RMIT made the decision to suspend all face-to-face activity across its Australian campuses and transition to remote delivery.
As we continue to manage through the significant and evolving situation, we are committed to doing everything we can to support our students and staff and minimise study and research disruptions while ensuring a sustainable future for the University.
We are proud of our community’s continued response to COVID-19 and willingness to innovate and adapt during this difficult time. Despite the challenges we face, we remain focused on continuing our leading research and providing quality learning experiences for our students.
We’re working hard to plan what a staged return to campus will look like.
We recently commenced an optional return for a limited cohort of students, to complete some of the practical elements of their courses, with stringent physical distancing and hygiene practices in place.
The next stages of our return to campus will be gradual and carefully planned, based on Government advice and our own campus assessments. We will be prioritising practical-based learning activities including labs, specialist classes, research activities and semester one ‘make-up’ activities that cannot be replicated online, with a particular emphasis on students in their final year.
Looking ahead to semester two, our current position is that classes that can be delivered remotely, will continue to be delivered online. This includes all lectures, tutorials, lectorials and seminars. While lectures will remain online for the duration of 2020, as Government advice evolves, we may return other learning, teaching and research activities, including selected tutorials, to campus.
We will review our position regularly and ensure any return to campus is carefully planned and prepared.
We will endeavour to ensure any student who is unable to attend campus in semester two and who continues studying remotely, will not be disadvantaged, although this may result in delays to their study.
We will continue to determine alternative options for any impacted students as and when decisions are made.
In line with government restrictions, the current advice for most of our staff and students remains the same: if you can work or study remotely, you should continue to do so.
The University has been supporting the repatriation of students who require assistance to return home from overseas, refunding pre-paid parking, waiving all existing Library fees and fines and supporting students with food service via the RMIT Chaplaincy.
Student Hardship Assistance and Relief Funds were expanded to provide up to $10 million in immediate, additional support for international and domestic students impacted by COVID-19. While applications for these funds have now closed, RMIT students impacted by COVID-19 can continue to access a range of food, housing and general support services offered by RMIT, as well as Government support. Go to the RMIT student website (login required) for more information and application instructions.
We have been taking a careful and considered approach to address the financial challenges associated with COVID-19 and are continuing to seek ways to reduce our costs and align our operations to the environment we face.
All travel remains restricted, consultancies have been reviewed and budgeted major projects have been rescoped, paused or stopped to drive important savings.
While we are, of course, reviewing our non-strategic assets in light of the challenges associated with COVID-19, the vast majority of assets we hold are essential for learning, teaching and research.
We previously asked senior leaders to support the ongoing sustainability of RMIT by reducing their fixed salary by 10% to the end of 2020 or reducing their working hours. Senior leaders were also informed they will not be eligible for pay reviews or any additional salaried benefits this year. This operational decision came after the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive (VCE) agreed to reduce their overall remuneration by 20%.
We have also provided options to our wider staff should they wish to make a contribution to RMIT’s cost measures, such as a temporary reduction in their working hours or purchasing additional leave. We are now exploring a potential voluntary redundancy program as another option to help support our financial sustainability. As part of any major change process, we’re committed to consulting with our staff and unions. The program opened for consultation on 23 June.
We acknowledge this is an extremely challenging and uncertain time for our community and must reiterate that these decisions are not being taken lightly.
While we navigate this situation, we remain unconditionally focused on the wellbeing of our people. A range of support services are available to the RMIT community, and we encourage those who need it to reach out to the relevant contacts on our staff and student channels (login required).
As we plan our staged return to campus, the health, safety and wellbeing of our community remains our top priority and is at the centre of all decision-making.
We’re working hard to ensure our campuses and facilities are equipped to safely support the resumption of on-campus activities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
RMIT’s COVIDSafe Plan outlines the safety measures required for our facilities and other protocols that must be adhered to.
Extra measures implemented by RMIT will include building access restrictions, scheduling of spaces, regular deep cleaning of facilities and equipment, frequent cleaning of high contact surfaces and stringent hygiene requirements.
We are extremely proud of our diverse, vibrant and passionate community of staff and we look forward to commencing the safe and staged return to our campuses.
We recommend the RMIT community continues following authoritative government and health sources to remain informed.
We will continue to progressively communicate with students, staff and partners as new information becomes available, decisions are made and as the plans for our return to campus are finalised.
Acknowledgement of Country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.