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New TEQSA report details student experiences of switch to online learning

30 November 2020

A new report from TEQSA has outlined the experiences of Australian higher education students during the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundations for good practice: The student experience of online learning in Australian higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic report was based on a thematic analysis of summaries of student experience surveys conducted by 118 Australian higher education providers in the first half of 2020.

TEQSA Chief Commissioner Professor Nick Saunders said the report showed students had identified positives and negatives about the switch to online modes of delivery.

“Our analysis showed students were genuinely understanding and appreciative of efforts by providers and academics to rapidly switch to online learning at the start of the pandemic.  A significant number were also positive about the increased flexibility online study offered, the level of online support offered by institutions and technology making it easier for students to learn,” Professor Saunders said.

“However, students did also raise several concerns including a reduction in interactions with academics and peers, IT issues, assessment changes, feelings of isolation and reduced motivation and difficulty with the translation of some subject areas to online delivery.

“TEQSA’s analysis also found that a number of students, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, reported they were affected by the closure of campus libraries as their home was not a conducive environment for study.”

Professor Saunders said TEQSA would continue to work with Australia’s higher education sector to assure the quality of the online student experience as campuses gradually re-opened.

“Most providers have already acted upon the findings of these surveys at an institutional level, and TEQSA will continue to share learnings and good practice resources around the online student experience with the sector,” Professor Saunders said.

Professor Saunders thanked the 118 providers that shared their summaries of student experience surveys with TEQSA, and Dr Lin Martin AO for her work on the report. 

The full report is available on the TEQSA website, along with a range of Online Learning Good Practice resources for higher education providers.

Media enquiries 

Bryan Allchin, Assistant Director, Communications: comms [at] teqsa.gov.au, 0437 143 012