Southern Cross University’s Post First Wave COVID Return to Normal Shifted

Gurpreet Singh outside the Health Sciences Building at Coffs Harbour campus.


ONGOING and emerging COVID safety measures have affected the university sector and Southern Cross University has been responding with careful consideration.

This has included the announcement to welcome international students back on campus, the recent return to graduation ceremonies as per usual and this week returning to online learning till July.

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It has been two years since the last graduation event so the honoured guests, lecturers and graduates themselves were pleased to be able to attend one of the largest graduations last week on Saturday June 26.

One thousand two hundred graduates attended and celebrated the achievements of close to three hundred graduates who received awards across three ceremonies.

Among them was Gurpreet Singh who was awarded a University Medal recognising his high academic achievement of First Class Honours graduating in a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science and a Bachelor of Health and Human Sciences (Honours).

Gurpreet’s Honours project investigated the effects of playing, exercising and training on synthetic grass, compared to natural turf, in the heat.

Part of the study involved volunteers swallowing a body heat pill (known as an Ingestible Thermal Monitoring System pill) ahead of a training session to measure their core body temperature with an accuracy to within one-tenth of a degree Celsius.

One of the project’s findings was that while the synthetic grass surface did not elicit any physiological changes to the athletes in cloudy conditions compared to the natural grass field, air temperatures above the synthetic surface were higher than the natural grass field, which may be exacerbated in hot conditions.

“Achieving First Class Honours is unexpected yet exciting.

“I was never an academic student during high school,” Mr Singh said.

“But having good support at Southern Cross University, particularly my supervisor Dr Chris Stevens who has guided and mentored me on how to go about research in general, that’s really helped. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my degree.”

Gurpreet is now enrolled in PhD study to further delve into the research topic.

On the announcement of the state government’s plan for the return of international students Mr Ben Roche, Vice President (Engagement) at Southern Cross University told News of The Area, “We would welcome their return at the earliest safe moment.

“We, of course, still have significant numbers of onshore International students completing their degrees and will continue to support them and our growing domestic student population with the very best university education to equip them for meaningful careers after graduating,” he said.

The return to delivering onshore to international students is still some time off however.

“We also acknowledge this work is at an early stage and requires a range of approvals yet to be secured,” Mr Roche said.

“Striking the balance between health considerations, the repatriation of Australian citizens and the impact of the loss of international students is the key outcome we all seek.”

And the juggling of the uncertainty of the recent emerging Greater Sydney COVID-19 cluster has this week seen the university make the decision to return to work from home and online learning while keeping the libraries and student hubs open in a reduced capacity.

At this stage the University expects normal activity to resume on Monday 12 July, subject to NSW Health Department advice at the time.

“Since COVID-19 first appeared last year, the University has always put the safety of our students and staff as the highest priority,” said Mr Allan Morris, Vice President (Operations).

“With that in mind, and given the escalating situation with COVID in NSW and QLD, the university has decided to revert to a ‘study/work from home’ environment for students and staff at the Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast campuses, with attendance on campus limited to essential activity only.

Mr Morris said, “We appreciate the flexibility of students and staff as we respond to this situation.

“Please take care and always follow the relevant state health department advice.”


By Sandra MOON

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