Friday, 27 March 2020

​​Dear UWA staff,

It’s Friday and it’s the weekend.

The next two weeks are pivotal in our collective ability to dampen the severity of COVID-19. We need to ensure that this weekend and next week we all obey the strict physical distancing rules and aim to keep ourselves out of the path of the virus. This is about being good citizens, being kind to others and being adaptable to the changed circumstances that confront us all.

In short:

  • Working from home
  • Accessing your UWA desktop from home
  • Semester 1 dates
  • Library opening hours
  • Zoom code of conduct
  • Parking
  • IT support for students
  • Energy reduction measures
  • Octagon closed from March 30

Working from home

To reiterate my message from yesterday, all staff at the University should be working from home by this Monday, unless otherwise instructed. Please discuss any transition arrangements with your manager. In preparation for working from home, please read these documents: Leader guide: Working from home and Staff guide: Working from home . There is additional information on working from home on the Staff Intranet.

Accessing your UWA desktop from home

IT are currently working on a solution for staff who need to connect directly to their UWA Windows desktops from home. If you are considering this option, please leave your work PC powered on .

Semester 1 dates

Further to yesterday’s email, I’d like to reiterate that we will retain 12 weeks of teaching for the UWA standard teaching period in Semester One. To do this we will need to adjust the end of the semester and we are investigating options which will work best including reducing the exam period by one week.

Library opening hours

From Thursday 26 March, the following libraries are open and available to UWA campus card holders:

  • Reid Library: 8am-9pm Monday to Friday; 12 noon to 5pm on weekends
  • Beasley Law Library: 9am-5pm Monday to Friday
  • J Robin Warren Library: 9am-5pm Monday to Friday

Zoom code of conduct

Many of our students are new to online tutorials and may need a reminder of appropriate Zoom etiquette. All students will receive the following information today:

UWA is committed to ethical principles of professionalism, integrity, personal responsibility and utmost respect for others. The transition to online learning environments presents new challenges. New learning environments require joint collaboration and respect to ensure vibrant, engaging and academically stimulating learning opportunities continue.

All members of the UWA community, staff and students are required to engage in a manner that reflects our Code of Conduct. The University is especially aware of the impact of social media and communication and reminds everyone that participation in online teaching and social discussion forums requires personal responsibility for what one writes, respect for audience, both visible and invisible and respect for copyright.

Your continued participation in this online learning environment requires that you demonstrate personal responsibility in any communications, including group chat, and uphold the University’s values. Students engaging inappropriately in online learning will have their conduct considered under the student discipline process.

You may also wish to share the attached poster with your students.


All staff and students can now park in all red and yellow bays on campus (regardless of whether or not they hold a parking permit). This is designed to ensure staff and students can avoid public transport, where possible, and practice increased physical distancing. This decision will be reviewed in four weeks.

IT support for students

We are working on solutions to support students who are having difficulty accessing the IT equipment and connectivity (e.g. laptop, WiFi) they need to participate in online learning and assessment. I will provide an update on this early next week.

Energy reduction measures

As a consequence of teaching moving online and the majority of staff now moving towards working from home, we are changing the way in which we provide air conditioning to our buildings. Low occupancy of buildings provides the opportunity to reduce or even stop the amount of chilled air provided. Adjustments have already been made to reduce energy consumption.

UWA spends over $100,000 on electricity, every week! Reducing the energy load from air conditioning will have an immediate impact on this. If you have any particular concerns then please contact the Campus Management Help Desk at [email protected] .

You can help with this: if you are transitioning to working from home then please ensure that any equipment and lights are switched off – just don’t leave others in the dark.

Octagon closed from March 30

The Octagon Theatre will be closed from Monday. Some staff have been using the venue to record lectures. Please contact the Educational Enhancement Unit for advice on recording lectures and facilities.

I want to end with a bit more about us, the staff and students who are UWA. And it’s about adapting and thriving which I believe are the key skills we all have to learn now and fast. This came to me as I was listening to the radio as I came into work this morning and an item about a chef whose restaurant had to close had left him without income, and worse, nothing to do. So he changed everything and started a new business, in food but online and fast delivery. He said words along this lines of “…if I don’t adapt, I will starve...” It was hard to do, they struggled at first because he would have preferred to be in his restaurant and it was “really hard to get the online side working” but they have. He and his staff are still employed and they are helping their community and he said, it was getting better every day.

It reminded me that this is exactly what UWA is doing. Staff have worked tirelessly and with some fear of the unknown, learning new skills fast to get their lecture content and assignments online and accessible, working on new ways of assessing learning, all the while working with technology. Not all of it is perfect and most of you would probably prefer to be face-to-face in class with your students. But it’s enabling nearly 25,000 UWA students to continue their studies. It’s hard but we are adapting and we are demonstrating resilience and fortitude in the face of uncertainty. Above all we are adapting to our new environment. If Darwin were alive he could write about it.

Likewise, students who arrived at UWA at the start of classes, way back in late February, have had to suddenly adapt to online everything. It’s not ideal and it was not what any of us expected would happen. Some students have left but the vast majority are grateful that their studies continue and have sent me lovely messages.

So, as your Vice-Chancellor, reflecting on my long experience in higher education, my strong message to you is to not underestimate what we are all learning from this sudden shift. Do not despair. Learn. All of us can continue the momentum and this means continuing to improve our online teaching. It also means students continuing to learn how to work online effectively, honing the skills they need to succeed in this format and ensuring additional job ready capability for their future.

Charles Darwin in his seminal work, The Origin of Species, published in 1859, wrote the foundational book on evolutionary biology. Darwin said this: “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change .”

Remember this over the next few weeks. It may not be easy but we will be trying. And that is what matters most.

Take care. Be kind to someone this weekend.


Professor Jane den Hollander AO


UWA Forward