A return to campus for students and staff – part of the new reality

A return to campus for students and staff – part of the new reality

As we emerge from the shadows of COVID-19 the two most striking changes to be experienced will be a gradual return of students to UBSS campuses (hybrid) and a full return to campus by UBSS staff. Both initiatives will create a new set of demands and challenges – that no doubt will be faced ‘head on’.


The return of students

Much has been said and debated about the safe and practical return of students to campus. Since the abrupt shift to online learning (T2, 2019) students at UBSS have remained on line throughout the pandemic. The evidence of high levels of satisfaction (SFUs at 4.3/5; positive QILT outcomes throughout; a preference to stay online – 95% with postgraduate students; and the most recent graduate outcome satisfaction of 95%) would suggest a full return to F2F (as opposed to a staged, hybrid approach) is not a particularly good idea.

The UBSS commitment – in line with the associated legislation – is to welcome students back on campus using a hybrid approach. This approach allows students back on site (by choice) and is similar to a live studio audience concept. This will commence from July 4, 2023.

In Sydney – it is a relatively simple matter. Live classes will welcome a live audience. Both online and F2F will co-exist. The option lies with the students.

In Melbourne and Adelaide live presentations will be transmitted from Sydney into linked classrooms with high resolution large projectors and screens (with appropriate audio). Roaming tutors will be on campus to ensure students are appropriately supported throughout. The option lies with the students.

Given the time of year in Melbourne and Adelaide the F2F option will be restricted to 8.30am – 6pm each day to ensure students are not required to travel in the dark and elements during the winter period.

The big concern around the hybrid return is of course the fact that COVID-19 is still very much with us and the flu season in Australia is predicted to be quite severe. Whilst masks are not mandated across the three States at present – students will be encouraged to mask up and avoid on campus fraternisation before and after scheduled classes.

For further insight see –

What is meant by ‘hybrid’ delivery and how does it work in higher education?
A hybrid return to campus – what does it look like
What is meant by ‘hybrid’ delivery and how does it work in higher education


The return of staff
From the outset, teaching staff at UBSS remained on campus delivering from resourced lecture studios. The quality of the output has been a considerably positive issue resulting in maintaining high levels of student satisfaction.

The demand was significant and staff met the challenge head on. The support and commitment was enormously appreciated by both students and management. Staff satisfaction levels have remained relatively constant throughout – despite the challenges. The most recent survey (T1, 2023) suggests a return to pre-pandemic satisfaction levels – 4.54/5.

Professional and support staff were afforded the luxury (and courtesy) of working from anywhere as well as on campus throughout the pandemic period – essentially a hybrid model. There was no noticeable change to productivity throughout, suggesting the mode worked effectively and efficiently.

At the commencement of Trimester 1, 2023 staff were requested to minimise the WFA percentage to one day per week in preparation for a full return to campus. From Trimester 2, 2023 (commencing May 8, 2023) all professional and support staff will be required to return to campus full-time easing in the hybrid return to campus by students and the inevitable return to full face to face classes in the not too distant future.

For further insight see -

Emerging from the COVID-19 shadows
What is the new reality?
Full marks for educators, the ‘digital convicts’ of COVID-19

We have experienced a unique period in Australian higher education – in fact Australian history for that matter. As we emerge from the shadows of COVID-19 – carefully and safely – changes to our work patterns and ‘realities’ are inevitable. I have no doubt that staff and students at UBSS will take on the new and emerging challenges in a responsible and professional manner.






Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor at UBSS and Vice President (Academic) at GCA.