A note to the higher education community from NCSEHE Director, Sarah O’Shea
As the situation evolves around COVID-19, we are facing challenges not only as equity practitioners and university staff members but also as parents, siblings, carers and of course, as individuals. There is nothing easy about any of this and the change is constant.
People react to change in different ways, provoking a myriad of emotional responses from panic, fear, and confusion through to uneasy anticipation. For some, COVID-19 has provoked a “call to action” to address the impacts on students and staff but for others, this situation is so overwhelming that even imagining a day or two in advance is an effort. It is important that we remain mindful of these differences and recognise that this situation will not be short lived, nor is there an “easy fix”.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly exacerbated inequity in the higher education sector, resulting in huge financial hardship to our students; its repercussions will reverberate in admissions, academic performance, graduation and employment prospects.
In a matter of weeks, the majority of students have found themselves in a position of “disadvantage” — academically, logistically, financially, and/or personally. Research, resources and supports originally targeting equity students are rapidly becoming universally applicable.
The previously uninitiated, who suddenly find themselves immersed in this area (including educators, practitioners and policymakers), can greatly benefit from our body of knowledge, evidence and expertise at this time. All of our research and resources are open access and available here on our website, and we are now exploring the most effective mediums through which to engage and provide support during this difficult time. This includes a series of online features, and webinars.
These are huge challenges in front of the equity sector but—for right now—I ask each of you to pause momentarily and, in that space, purposively connect (at a distance) with colleagues and community — a phone call; an email; or a quick video chat. Equally, for anyone that is struggling at the moment please reach out to others and the support services available.
Stay safe, from all of us at the NCSEHE.
Professor Sarah O’Shea