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: Supporting student wellbeing during COVID-19: Tips from regional and remote Australia

“All classes will shift to online, effective this Monday.” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching staff at universities across the world are being told they must shift courses from face-to-face to online delivery — not next year, not next semester, but next week. Some colleagues have been teaching online for many years, but for many of us it is a daunting change.

In this time of physical distancing, the preliminary findings of my NCSEHE Equity Fellowship research on supporting the mental wellbeing of mature-aged students in regional and remote Australia may be helpful. Why? The majority (53 per cent) of the students surveyed (n=2,401) and interviewed (n=51) study fully online.

Their experience is quickly becoming the “new normal”; with almost all tertiary study suddenly online, no longer is it a tyranny of distance for the few, on the periphery and out of sight.

The survey and interview findings highlight the importance of teaching practices and the learning environment on student wellbeing. What can we learn from these regional and remote students to support students’ mental health, wellbeing and success, in the context of learning and teaching online?

Read the full report here.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank members of my Fellowship Advisory Group, Dr Benjamin Veness, Associate Professor Lydia Woodyatt (Flinders University) and Mr Matt Brett (Deakin University), for their invaluable feedback on this piece.