Back to top

Universities support measures to counter COVID-19

20 March 2020 | media

Universities are working constructively with Government and stand ready to offer support in any way they can during this time of crisis, says Derek McCormack, Universities New Zealand Chair and Vice-Chancellor of AUT.

“Universities are already opening their facilities and sharing their expertise, and are here to help with whatever Government needs,” says McCormack. “We are also committed to supporting our students and staff, both here in New Zealand and those offshore. We want to continue delivering the world-class education and research our community deserves.”

Universities have a number of public health experts speaking about health aspects of COVID-19 in the media at present. Others are explaining and commenting on the economic measures.

“As well as offering expertise, universities have made their laboratories available to help with COVID-19 testing,” says McCormack. “Our main focus is on our students and staff. Although universities are exempt from the latest restrictions on meetings, universities are taking prudent steps to safeguard students, staff and their communities, including preparing for the possible partial or full closure of campuses.

“We have planned for a wide range of contingencies to try and maintain the educational experience for our students,” says McCormack. “All universities are working creatively to ensure as much work as possible—including lectures and tutorials—is available through other means, including online,” says McCormack. “We are also looking at adjusting the academic calendar, including rescheduling events such as graduation ceremonies, exams and assessments.

“We are acutely aware that we have a responsibility of care for our students, particularly the more than 16,000 in university accommodation. Universities are well positioned to manage contagious outbreaks, having dealt many times with infectious disease outbreaks such as meningococcal disease, flu and mumps.

“We will do what is needed to manage the health of students, staff and the public.”