15 Sep 2021

Students stuck in Auckland say they're missing out

11:23 am on 15 September 2021

University students in Auckland have mixed feelings about their lockdown learning.

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File photo. Photo: 123 RF

Students told RNZ their remote learning is going well but they are missing out on practical components of their courses.

Those enrolled at Auckland's universities will have remote learning and exams for the remainder of the university year.

Meanwhile, students from Auckland who decided to return home for the lockdown now find themselves stuck in alert level 4 while their universities in other parts of the country resume face-to-face lectures and tutorials.

University of Auckland medical student Daniel Lavin returned to his hometown of Whanganui before the lockdown started.

Now he is learning online which he says is okay though there are some things that are hard to do.

"We are trying to do it online, but it's just not the same. It's hard to replicate the hospital environment on Zoom - they do a good job but it'll never be the same. In terms of real practical stuff like taking blood pressure and also taking IVs and stuff, that's just not going to happen."

Lavin said students studying other, more practical, subjects were probably worse off.

He said he also had doubts about online exams.

"Having exams online is a bit of a drama, maintaining the integrity of the examinations and whether or not people are cheating or not is pretty hard to do. You can't guarantee that everyone's playing the same ball game."

The university said most of its online exams would be open-book and test higher-order thinking rather than recall of facts. It said it would use remote monitoring for some high-stakes exams and during alert levels 1 or 2 would run a very small number of exams on campus.

Engineering student Brianna Breeze decided to stay in her Auckland flat through the lockdown.

She said she was glad the house of five people decided to take in four others to ensure their bubble had a bigger mix of people.

"Just before the lockdown we had a few extra people move in just for sanity's sake," she said.

Breeze said she had no problem with the university's decision to stick with online learning for the remaining two months of the academic year, regardless of whether Auckland's alert level changes.

"Last year for second semester in those exams they didn't make the call, they had them in person, and then when that surprise lockdown hit it was a bit of a rush to go to online exams halfway through the exams so I definitely think certainty is preferable."

Auckland's lockdown was affecting students from other universities too, such as Pauline Abeleda who four weeks ago left her university hostel in Wellington to be with her family in Auckland for lockdown and was now stuck there.

"I feel, not regretful, but just stuck," she said.

Claire Thomas made the same decision. She said she was happy she avoided spending three weeks of lockdown in her Wellington hostel.

"I kind of did see it coming a little bit, just because of the amount of cases Auckland has been having compared to everywhere else," she said.

"Obviously I can't go back and I am disappointed about that because I'm really enjoying myself at the halls and being able to live near campus is a lot different to having to do everything online now."

University of Victoria resumed face-to-face teaching this week, but fortunately for students like Thomas, lectures would continue to be available online.

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