Staff from across Swinburne have united to support students in need undertaking Pathways and Vocational Education (PAVE) courses during the COVID-19 situation.
While transitioning to online learning, staff observed there were a number of vocational students who did not have access to a computer or laptop to continue their studies.
In a collaborative effort across the university, staff worked swiftly to arrange the donation and delivery of 30 Chromebooks to these PAVE students, ensuring they could continue their studies and engage with their mentors and peers.
The funding came about through a generous donation from the Pridmore Trust, and through the initiatives of Deputy Director of Student Support and Wellbeing, Stephanie Smith. The Pridmore Trust is a key contributor to Swinburne in providing scholarship funds used for education purposes by students in need.
Trustees from the Pridmore Trust, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Ms Nancy Collins and General Counsel for Governance and Assurance, Mr Tom Rowan, approached the Swinburne community about funding an initiative to invest in resources to enable students to continue their studies. In addition to this generosity, funds from the Pridmore Trust have also supported students through the Swinburne Student Emergency Fund earlier this year.
A team of staff working across Student Equity and AccessAbility, Student Support and Wellbeing, Student Engagement, IT, Student Administration and Library Services, Student Success Coaches and other PAVE-related units banded together to facilitate and accomplish the send-off.
“Had we not taken action fairly quickly, many of the successful recipients would have found it incredibly difficult to remain engaged with their course,” shares Refugee and Asylum Seeker Project Coordinator, Susan Oldham.
In particular, Swinburne asset provision analyst, Joyal Joseph, oversaw the collection of the Chromebooks from campus with support from asset provision manager, Mathew Kirkovski, and Bradley Burke who secured the devices. IT staff members Luciano Varcica and Michelle Koci also collaborated to advise and create a Chromebook user guide and supply additional remote setup support for students.
The Swinburne team organised the acquisition, trialling and distribution of the devices to ensure the Chromebooks were in the mail prior to the COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne.
“This was a real-life example of cross unit collaboration. I was very lucky to have the support of the Director of Student Engagement, Nadine Zacharias, who was able to come on campus with me to physically print labels, stick them to the laptops and take them to the post office – not an easy feat,” shares administrator officer, Kate Anderson.
30 Chromebooks were donated to students studying a diverse range of courses including Diplomas of Engineering Technology to Nursing, Certificates in Cyber Security to Early Childhood, and VCAL and EAL courses. In fact, the student who trialled the device for us is undertaking a Certificate in General Education for Adults at the University’s Croydon campus. Had this trial not been successful we would not have been able to go ahead with the purchase.
“I have been out of a computer for a very long time, the last computer I had was from my parents and stopped working in 2014. This donation means a lot to me and I appreciate it very much,” shares a student currently undertaking a Diploma at Swinburne.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE), Lisa Line, acknowledged the substantial impact this initiative will make to students working remotely. “The provision of these laptops will enable many students at risk of not continuing their studies, with the means to remain connected with their peers, and to study from home. We are extremely appreciative of the support from the Pridmore Trust and our staff to bring this initiative to life.”