Responding to COVID-19 with new ways to learn
A reimagining of education is underway in Australia and around the globe as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates changes to the way we learn.
How are UTS staff responding to the huge challenges facing the higher learning sector? By creating opportunities for people to upskill, reskill and even change careers. One way we’re doing this is through the introduction of Higher Education Certificates.
Higher Education Certificates are government subsidised graduate certificates that UTS has developed as part of the Australian Government’s Higher Education Relief Package. Announced in May to make study achievable during the pandemic, the subsidy reduces the cost of select online courses in the areas of teaching, nursing, health, IT and the sciences for 20,000 eligible students.
Photo by Toby Burrows
Creating and innovating
UTS was in a good position to rise to this challenge, given our UTS 2027 ‘Learning for a lifetime’ strategic initiative to offer flexible, real-world and personalised learning experiences. Staff worked together to create new courses and adapt existing ones into Higher Education Certificates. Each course was carefully designed to support people who may have been affected by COVID-19.
All up, UTS offered 17 Higher Education Certificates across education, engineering and IT, science, built environment, architecture and health.
Opportunities in health
Gail Forrest, Director of Postgraduate Nursing Studies, explains that in the current climate, nurses are expected to rapidly upskill their clinical knowledge and skills so that they can work across a variety of environments in a constantly changing landscape. So, her team developed Higher Education Certificates in Day Surgery and(in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education, to address areas of urgent need.
“We’re overwhelmed by the response from nurses who – despite potentially facing the most challenging times in their clinical careers – continue to want to further their knowledge and skills, driven by the desire to improve quality of care and patient safety,” she says. “It’s fantastic to be able to offer such a well deserving profession this opportunity.”
Andrew Hayen, Deputy Head of School, Teaching and Learning in the School of Public Health, says his team was acutely aware of the need for more training in public health and communicable diseases, so they created a graduate certificate in exactly that.
Together with the School of Nursing and Midwifery, they also created the Graduate Certificate in Chronic Diseases and Vulnerable Populations, which focuses on public and Indigenous health, chronic disease, palliative care health, and non-communicable diseases.
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He’s thrilled by the appetite for the courses, and by the diversity of professional backgrounds of the students who enrolled. “The mix of students is fantastic as public health solutions require multidisciplinary approaches,” he says. “We have students who are nurses and psychologists as well as professional musicians and actors. Some of the students have said they’d always wanted to work in public health, and the graduate certificate is giving them the perfect opportunity.”
Educating the educators
Staff at UTS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recognised that the rapid pivot to online and remote learning requires people who can design these online learning environments – both in education and in the world of work, too.
“Though COVID-19 was the catalyst for increased online and digital learning, it’s reasonable to assume that these practices are going to be a central component of work practices for some time, if not for good,” says Dr Keith Heggart, a lecturer at UTS.
As a result, the team developed the Graduate Certificate in Education and Digital Learning to quickly upskill educators, teachers and trainers in online and digital learning via a research-based, close-to-practice course. As well as upskilling in digital learning and educational technology, students have the option to continue their studies, as the course provides articulation points towards a Master of Teaching, a Master of Education or the Graduate Certificate in Learning Design (opening in 2021).
While applications for Higher Education Certificates for 2020 have now closed, there is a range of other study options at UTS to help you upskill, learn something new or even shift career directions, including short courses and our suite of postgraduate degrees.
Read: How is the workforce shifting, and what opportunities does this open up?