2020 teaching and learning: frequently asked questions

Find out how COVID-19 is affecting the 2020 academic year and what we're doing to continue to deliver the highest quality education and student experiences. This page answers some frequently asked questions about teaching and learning for 2020.

Semester dates for 2020

After announcing the outline of the block learning approach, we have had considerable feedback from students, expressing anxiety about the approach.

We have listened, reviewed and decided to follow the previous semester model, from 28 April 2020.

The benefits of block learning included our work to prepare for effective online delivery, and this can now be delivered in our semester model.

New Zealand appears to be in a more optimistic space regarding managing COVID-19, and this too has allowed us confidence about remaining with our usual timetable and a combination of online and on campus delivery.

The updated semester dates are as follows:

Semester 1 is extended by one week.
Semester 2 starts one week later and finishes as scheduled.

Semester 1

  • 24 February | Semester 1 commences
  • 23 March to 27 April | Mid-semester break
  • 23 to 24 April | Online learning orientation
  • 28 April | Semester 1 resumes
  • 19 June | Final day of teaching
  • 22 to 26 June | Final assessments (for those not completed in teaching time)
  • 26 June | Semester ends
  • Review and reconsideration (handback) is programme specific

Semester 2

  • 16 July | Semester 2 orientation
  • 20 July | Semester 2 commences
  • 7 to 18 September | Mid-semester break
  • 21 September | Semester 2 resumes
  • 23 October | Last day of teaching
  • 27 to 30 October | Final assessments (for those not completed in teaching time).
  • 6 November | Semester 2 ends
  • Review and reconsideration (handback) is programme specific

We are dispensing with exam weeks, by carrying out assessments during the delivery of papers, so that Semester 1 will end at the normal time. To achieve this, no additional breaks are being scheduled.

For those students who have difficulty achieving academic outcomes due to this may apply for special consideration.

The University has decided not to adopt the block learning model. Our teaching will be semester based.

The University is responding to a more optimistic outcome for COVID-19 alert levels and can deliver effective online learning within the semester model.

Continuing your studies

The extended semester break may result in a condensed assessment structure for your remaining papers and your programme leader will be advising you of the new requirements.

Students are invited to join AUT on 23 and 24 April for helpful info and videos to get ready for studying from home.

To prepare, you need to visit Student Digital Workspace (SDW) and download the AUT Student App.

SDW: Your go-to place for information

From Thursday 23 April, visit SDW for everything you need to feel well-prepared for studying remotely.

You’ll find four key modules that will help you be successful in your studies:

  • How to stay well and connected
  • What digital tools you need
  • How to succeed academically
  • Setting you up for day 1

Semester 2 will begin one week later than originally planned, on Monday 20 July.

Dates for Semester 2 are as follows:

  • 16 July | Semester 2 orientation
  • 20 July | Semester 2 commences
  • 7 to 18 September | Mid-semester break
  • 21 September | Semester 2 resumes
  • 23 October | Last day of teaching
  • 27 to 30 October | Final assessments (for those not completed in teaching time)
  • 6 November | Semester 2 ends
  • Review and reconsideration (handback) is programme specific

We do not know how long the COVID-19 will impact on New Zealand. We will need to respond to whatever alert level is in place. If necessary, we will continue teaching online if face to face teaching is still not feasible.

For questions specific to postgraduate research students, visit the Student Digital Workspace (SDW).

FAQs for postgraduate research students (SDW)

If you have any questions you can contact the Student Hub at studenthub@aut.ac.nz.

Find out what support is available to help you through this challenging time, and where to find government and community advice on the COVID-19 situation. 

COVID-19 support for students

Requesting support

Online and on-campus learning

Learning and teaching at AUT will be online from 28 April in response to the Government’s alert levels. More details will be provided following the Government’s clarification on activities permitted under alert level 3.

This will include assessments. Papers will assess learning outcomes in a variety of ways. You should contact your faculty for the specifics of each paper.

When the alert level goes down to alert level 3 it is probable that teaching activities that require specialised facilities will be able to take place, as long as correct social distancing can be maintained and attendance is logged to ensure contract tracing should this be required.

We’re anticipating that we’ll need to teach online for some time, and this will include assessments. Papers will assess learning outcomes in a variety of ways. You should contact your faculty for the specifics of each paper.

The delivery of practical programmes is an issue that we are still looking at. Your faculty will shortly be in touch with you to discuss your options.

Faculties are exploring ways we can conduct practical learning during the restrictions of alert levels 3 and 4. Your faculty will be in contact with you.

AUT supports a 'blended learning' approach of face-to-face supported by online, as we believe this approach best suits our curriculum and learning needs of our students.

At alert level 3, typically teaching will still be online and generally students will not be encouraged to come on campus. Teaching in small groups may occasionally take place where it’s important for students to be physically present, as long as social distancing can be maintained.

AUT supports a 'blended learning' approach of face-to-face supported by online, as we believe this approach best suits our curriculum and learning needs of our students. We’ll be guided by the Government alert system and will provide further information when available.

Alert level 3 and what it means for your studies

New Zealand entered into COVID-19 alert level 3 on Tuesday 28 April. Government will review the situation after two weeks and provide an update on Monday 11 May. The main message is still for people to stay at home.

Teaching and Learning

AUT teaching and learning will be delivered online for the remainder of Semester 1. All teaching and learning activities should be done remotely wherever possible at alert level 3, and distance learning will be available to students.

Accessing study and computer facilities

There will be limited access to AUT facilities under alert level 3 for students who don’t have a suitable study space or a computer or internet.

To access those spaces, students will need to pre-book using AUT’s app. Only individual bookings are available, group bookings are not possible to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. Please make your booking before 9am of the day you would like to access a facility.

If you don’t have a smart phone to make a booking, please email studenthub@aut.ac.nz.

The following facilities will be available to book on a restricted and controlled basis from 28 April 2020:

  • City Campus – Tech Central (WA402)
  • North Campus – Tech Central (AL125)
  • South Campus – Tech Central and Learning Centre (MA Building (Part))

Bookings are available in three hour slots, either 10am – 1pm, or 2pm – 5pm.

An AUT staff member will be present on each campus to grant access based on a booking. Students will be asked to present their student ID when they arrive. If a booking has not been made, access will not be granted. Students will also need to scan a QR code using the AUT app to enable contact tracing.

AUT student accommodation and the student medical centres remained operational at alert level 4. Some additional physical services are open during alert level 3.

Tech Central

Tech Central will be available to AUT students who need computer access for online learning. Capacity is strictly limited due to physical distancing, so students must pre-book using AUT’s app. Only individual bookings are available, group bookings are not possible to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. If you don't have a booking access will not be granted.

Contact tracing will be in place, students will be required to check in and check out of their booked space. Spaces will be fitted with distancing markers and hand sanitiser. Equipment will be cleaned between each use. Contactless student ICT support will be provided by freephone: 0800 288 428.

Tech Central is available to book from Tuesday 28 April at the City Campus (WA409A), North Campus (AL125) and South Campus (MA202/MAPODS).

Study spaces on campus

We are examining whether there is a way to safely provide AUT students with controlled study spaces and WIFI access at alert level 3.

As an interim, the South Campus Learning Centre can be booked by individual students using the AUT app. Group bookings are not permitted. Only those with a booking will be granted access.

Student mental health

Three staff will soon be joining the Student Medical Centre to provide additional support for student mental health and counselling.

Library

While the library will not physically reopen at alert level 3, staff are examining ways to digitise print material that isn’t available online, by individual request. Other virtual services are already available.

All bookings need to be made using the AUT app on your smart phone. If you don’t have a smart phone please email studenthub@aut.ac.nz.

When using the AUT app please make sure you have updated the app to the most recent version to use the facility booking features.

To make a booking in the AUT app, select My AUT from the main menu, followed by Bookings. You will get a confirmation email which includes a link to cancel or change your booking. Your booking will be added to your Office 365 calendar.

When you arrive on campus you will be required to check in and check out of each area by scanning a QR code using the AUT app on your smart phone.

All staff and students intending to access AUT facilities during level 3 must load the AUT app on their smartphone. A manual sign-in process will be undertaken for those without a suitable device.

In order to maintain physical distancing and provide for future contact tracing, no one will be allowed access without a booking.

Each building that has a bookable space will have a single point of entry. This entry will be controlled by an AUT staff member who will check your student ID and require you to scan a QR code using the AUT app for contact tracing. If you have not made a booking, access will not be granted.

Lists of approved bookings will be provided at the commencement of each working day to the AUT staff member on campus. Please book the space or computer you wish to access before 9am of the day you want to book for.

Hand sanitiser stations will be provided in common areas and will be replenished routinely.

Cleaning will take place between bookings. It is important to keep to the time of your booking in order to allow time for cleaning in between each booking.

AUT staff members will be present inside each of the facilities to provide supervision and ensure social distancing requirements are met. These supervisors will be provided with appropriate PPE.

Poor behaviour or breaches of physical distancing will not be tolerated and will result in the issue of a trespass and/or ban from further access until return to alert level 2.

No waiting or loitering on campus will be permitted. If you have booked a space please arrive no earlier than 5-10 minutes before your booked start time.

Assessments should be conducted remotely wherever possible.

AUT research should be conducted remotely wherever possible. Face-to-face research activities are not permitted at alert level 3 (including personal interviews, public events and experiments involving human subjects).

Only essential research activities that meet the criteria, and can't be delayed until alert level 2, will be considered. Strict physical distancing and government requirements need to be met. Approval must be sought from the relevant dean. The criteria and process for activities on-site (research) will be available later this week.

However, some allowance will be made for maintaining biological material and retrieving equipment.

Activities on-site will be strictly limited. The move to alert level 3 does not signal a return to small classes, tutorials, or meetings on campus. Only essential teaching and learning activities that meet the criteria below, and can't be delayed until alert level 2, will be considered. Strict physical distancing and government requirements need to be met. Approval in each situation must be sought from the relevant dean. The criteria and process for activities on-site (teaching and learning) will be available later this week.

Government regulations that AUT must comply with at alert level 3 include:

  • A limit of 10 people or less, for any classes, tutorials or workshops on-site. Each group is considered ‘a single bubble’ and none of its members may interact with staff or students from any other bubble. Any individual can only belong to one bubble
  • Large gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed
  • Physical distancing requirements must be met in all situations
  • Contact tracing must be in place and available to government agencies. Enhanced cleaning protocols must also be in place

Support available for students

AUT has surveyed students and is in the process of providing both devices and broadband access to those who need it. If you didn’t complete the survey but need help with equipment or data to study, please contact the Student Hub.

AUT has surveyed students and is in the process of providing both devices and broadband access to those who need it. If you didn’t complete the survey but need help with equipment or data to study, please contact the Student Hub.

AUT has surveyed students and is in the process of providing both devices and broadband access to those who need it. If you didn’t complete the survey but need help with equipment or data to study, please contact the Student Hub.

If the alert level is reduced to level 3, we intend to make some study spaces available on campus, where we can ensure social distancing and keep records for contact tracing if this is required. Exact plans for this are still being worked through and will be communicated when available.

Yes, AUT’s student services are still operating. Find out what support is available to help you through this challenging time, and where to find government and community advice on the COVID-19 situation.

COVID-19 support for students

Requesting support

Keep up-to-date with the AUT Student App

We will keep you updated via email, AUT’s website and the AUT Student App. Download the app here for Apple or android.

Students in China

Due to the unprecedented circumstances, we’re having to move to a new delivery model across AUT. Regardless of whether you’ve studied on campus or started an Interim Study Plan (ISP), all students need to change to the new block learning approach.

The work you’ve already done will of course be acknowledged but you’ll need to select papers from those available in each block.

Graduation

AUT has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Winter Graduation ceremonies, as a result of COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

In a few weeks, students we’ve identified as being possibly eligible to graduate in July will receive further communication about arrangements for awarding their qualification.

Your qualification will be awarded and digital credentials will be made available along with an opportunity to take part in a future ceremony.

AUT made the decision to cancel the Graduation ceremonies planned for July 2020, as a result of COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

This decision wasn’t made lightly. However, AUT has a duty of care and responsibility to ensure the health of our students, and their friends and family are protected.

Your qualification will be awarded and digital credentials will be made available along with an opportunity to take part in a future ceremony.

At this stage, it’s too early to tell. AUT will be taking direction from the New Zealand Government for when the COVID-19 alert levels are reduced. We will keep you updated as soon as new information comes to hand.

You can contact one of our Student Hub Advisors via email studenthub@aut.ac.nz if you have any questions.

Student accommodation

Yes. AUT residential villages remain open, with increased level of service and support being provided by on-site staff as was being provided prior to the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown. Our residential life programme is being offered online, and food is being provided to residents who chose to stay on-site during the lockdown level 4 period.

Residents apartments are considered their ‘bubbles’. Outside of their apartment bubble, residents must adhere to the 2m social distancing government guidelines.

We have added more cleaning services at both WSA and ASV, with touch points being sanitised twice daily.

Hand sanitiser stations have been installed at every entry and on every floor.

Communal laundries are being operated on a one-in one-out basis.

Yes. Whether you chose to remain on-site in accommodation with us during this lockdown, or temporarily move home, your fees remain unchanged.

However, if you chose to move home during the lockdown period you will qualify for a $60 per week utilities credit.

This will apply until you are able to move back into your village and will be backdated from Friday 27 March.

Yes – as you are contracted you will need to continue to pay accommodation fees enabling AUT to continue to reserve your room.

However, as you have moved home you will qualify for a $60 per week utilities credit.

This will apply during level 4 until you are able to move back into your village and will be backdated from Friday 27 March.

If you are unable to do pay your fees due to COVID-19, you can apply for the Student Hardship Fund through the COVID-19 Support Form.

We have established a Student Hardship Fund to temporarily aid those who are experiencing financial difficulties in paying their university accommodation fees due to COVID-19.

You can apply through the COVID-19 Support Form.

If you have used all other avenues of support (StudyLink, WINZ, Unemployment Benefits etc), you can apply for financial assistance fund for some temporary relief.

You can apply by filling out the COVID-19 Support Form or contacting the Student Hub.

Yes – if you decide to withdraw from accommodation due to the COVID-19 situation, we will allow you to withdraw from your contract before 30 April 2020. As per your residential contract, you must give 3 weeks’ notice to fully vacate your room and with the following conditions;

  • Your room will need to be vacated within 10 days of the country moving into an alert level that allows fair and safe movement.
  • Your room is left empty and clean – normal charges will apply for rooms left at an unsatisfactory level of cleanliness.

Notice to vacate must be linked to the COVID-19 situation and must be received by 30 April 2020.

Send your notice requesting to terminate your contract to residential.services@aut.ac.nz.

Yes – we will refund your accommodation fees from your date of departure.

Please contact studyabroad@aut.ac.nz for assistance.

Accommodation withdrawal/still enrolled

Scholarship credit may be held by Accommodation Services pending a decision by the student to return to the apartments in Semester 2.

If a student is not returning/does not return, then the remainder of the scholarship funding will be returned to the Scholarships Office, who will arrange alternative installment payment(s) to the student during 2020. Funding will not be carried forward to 2021.

Students withdrawing from study

If you're withdrawing from study and want to apply for a scholarship credit, you can email your request to scholars@aut.ac.nz. Please include why you've decided not to complete your year within the revised semester programme.

Where a student has received a scholarship from an external party, other than an AUT scholarship (eg a Keir Trust Regional Study Award) and they choose not to return to accommodation, then the Scholarships Office will request instructions from the scholarship funder.

Contact us

If you have more questions about our approach to teaching and learning, get in touch with our Student Hub team.

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