The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: COVID-19 online learning landscapes and CALDMR students: Opportunities and challenges

Written by Sally Baker1, Joel Anderson2, Rachel Burke3, Teresa De Fazio4, Clemence Due5, Lisa Hartley6, Tebeje Molla7, Carolina Morison8, William Mude9, Loshini Naidoo10, Ravinder Sidhu11

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities of educational systems in Australia and around the world. For universities, campus closures and a rapid shift to teaching and learning online — which we call emergency remote delivery (ERD) to distinguish from planned online learning — has deepened inequalities in access to quality learning experiences. While the challenges created by COVID for universities and students have not yet fully unfolded, ERD has both created new, and magnified existing barriers for educational participation, as well as some unanticipated positive consequences for enhanced flexibility and more engaged learning. In particular, it has created new educational and social vulnerability for culturally and linguistically diverse migrant and/or refugee (CALDMR) communities. COVID has also exposed the stresses and difficulties for educators, student-facing support staff (SFSS; equity practitioners, student advisors, learning advisors, counsellors), and educational developers.

This research project draws on the expertise of a collective of interdisciplinary academics across Australia. Working with a steering group from the Refugee Education Special Interest Group, this study examines the equity-related challenges and opportunities of ERD for four groups of ‘stakeholders’: CALDMR students, university educators, ‘student-facing’ support staff, and educational developers. This research draws on data from a national, mixed-methods study involving 30 universities. It gathered data from 87 CALDMR university students who completed an online survey and 10 students who participated in a Photovoice exercise; 29 university educators who completed an online survey and eight who participated in semi-structured interview; 13 SFSS who participated in semi-structured interviews; and 19 educational developers who completed on online survey.

Read the full report: COVID-19 online learning landscapes and CALDMR students: Opportunities and challenges


1University of New South Wales
2La Trobe University
3The University of Newcastle
4Victoria University
5University of Adelaide
6Curtin University
7Deakin University
8Macquarie University
10Western Sydney University
11The University of Queensland