FAQs - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For FAQs in Chinese, please click here.

常见问题答疑 - 新型冠状病毒肺炎

How UNSW is responding

What is UNSW doing about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation?

  • UNSW is closely monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19 and is supporting any affected students and staff based on information from the federal Department of Health and NSW Health.
  • UNSW is providing advice to students who are concerned via The Nucleus (+61 2 9385 8500) or China call centre (+86 21 6288 9885 or +86 21 6288 9886) and via our International Student advisors.
  • Higher degree research candidates can find specific FAQs below and seek assistance from the Graduate Research School.
  • The Vice-Chancellor announced clear guidelines for Term 1 and Term 2 enrolment for commencing and continuing students. These changes are intended to support our community as much as possible. The main points are:
    • Faculties are currently working on course offerings to ensure as little disruption to your progression as possible. You will be contacted once the adjustments to the 2020 schedule are complete. Please expect this in early March. If, after you have reviewed the changes, you require further advice please use this form to contact us. 
    • Please click here to view the list of programs offered in Term 2. This list is being updated regularly.
    • UNSW will ensure that the quality, cost and duration of your education is not compromised.
    • If you cannot join Term 1 by 28 February, you can join us for Term 2 on 1 June.
    • The flexibility of our three-term calendar means you can catch up on courses you have missed in Term 1 so that your graduation date is unchanged, and you do not incur additional cost.
    • If you defer or take program leave and arrive in Sydney in March, April or May you will be able to join the UNSW community, enjoy the campus, participate in clubs/societies and use the library and other resources as a full member of the UNSW family before commencing your studies on 1 June.
    • The student union, Arc, will work with University staff to assist in any issues related to your accommodation and other needs when arriving in Sydney.
  • Please click here to view the list of programs offered in Term 2. This list is being updated regularly.
  • If staff require support, they should talk to their manager. UNSW also provides support services for staff members through its free and confidential counselling service, Benestar, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • UNSW will continue to update students and staff as new information becomes available.
  • UNSW is also posting updates for our Chinese audience on WeChat

Getting the latest information

Who can I contact if I have an urgent or immediate query?

  • The University has set up a helpline with extended hours from 9am to 10pm (Sydney time) on weekdays and 9am to 5pm (Sydney time) on weekends for any urgent inquiries. Please call +61 2 9385 8500 (press 1 for COVID-19) if you have an immediate or urgent concern relating to COVID-19. 
  • Students in China should contact the China call centre on +86 21 6288 9885 or +86 21 6288 9886.

Where is UNSW getting advice about how to respond to COVID-19?

I am worried about my family and friends in China. Who can I talk to?

  • Students who are concerned should contact The Nucleus for more information. 
  • Students can also access support via International Student advisors.
  • If you are a staff member who requires support, UNSW offers a free, confidential counselling service through Benestar, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

Travel advice

Can I still travel to China for work or leisure?

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has raised the travel advice for all Australians to do not travel to China.
  • DFAT has advice for travellers, including those returning from a destination with reported cases.

What is the current status of the Australian Government's travel ban from mainland China?

  • The Federal Government will maintain the travel ban and entry restrictions from mainland China, aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, until Saturday 29 February. 
  • The ban prevents anyone other than Australian citizens or permanent residents and their immediate families from travelling to Australia from mainland China.
  • The ban is being reviewed on a weekly basis.

Special arrangements for students

Programs available at UNSW in Term 2 2020

What are my options if I am a commencing student affected by the COVID-19 restrictions?

  • UNSW defines an affected student as a student who cannot travel from an affected area (currently China) for the beginning of Term 1.
  • Affected students may defer or take program leave until Term 2 or Term 3 depending on the availability of relevant programs and subjects.
  • Affected students who choose to defer or take program leave until Term 2 or Term 3 will not be subject to financial penalties.
  • The flexibility of our three-term calendar means you can catch up on courses you have missed in Term 1 so that your graduation date is unchanged, and you do not incur additional cost.
  • If you defer or take program leave and arrive in Sydney in March, April or May you will be able to join the UNSW community, enjoy the campus, participate in clubs/societies and use the library and other resources as a full member of the UNSW family before commencing your studies in Term 2, which starts on 1 June.
  • Enrolment for Term 1 2020 closed at the end of Week 1, Friday 21 February. However, UNSW will allow late enrolment for affected students until the end of Week 2, Friday 28 February. Students must be enrolled and onshore by 28 February to start Term 1.
  • It will be possible for students who arrive late to enrol in courses up to the end of Week 2, but since such students will need to catch up, students who enrol between the end of week 1 and the end of week 2 are typically limited to enrolling in only two courses.
  • If you arrive late, you should be aware of the possible drawbacks:
    • Travel Restrictions: if there are changes to the travel restrictions and, despite your best efforts, you do not make it to campus for Term 1, you will have until March 15 to defer until Term 2 and avoid the financial cost for your enrolled course/s.
    • Assessments: Check whether your enrolled courses have an assessment due that requires you to be onshore any time after 28 February and before the time you arrive. If that is the case there is a problem as you will unfortunately receive a score of 0 for that item.
    • Assessable items - some courses have a requirement that you must get at least 50% in all assessments. This means that if you miss an assessment (even if the weight is small) you will unfortunately fail the course. Details for the assessments and relevant dates can be found in the course outline (available in Moodle).

What are my options if I am a continuing student affected by the COVID-19 restrictions?

  • UNSW defines an affected student as a student who cannot travel from an affected area (currently China) for the beginning of Term 1.
  • Affected continuing students will be able to take program leave for Term 1 and enrol in Term 2 or Term 3. This needs to be completed by Sunday 15 March.
  • The flexibility of our three-term calendar means you can catch up on courses you have missed in Term 1 so that your graduation date is unchanged, and you do not incur additional cost.
  • If you defer or take program leave and arrive in Sydney in March, April or May you will be able to join the UNSW community, enjoy the campus, participate in clubs/societies and use the library and other resources as a full member of the UNSW family before commencing your studies on 1 June.
  • It will be possible for students who arrive late to enrol in courses up to the end of Week 2 (Friday 28 February), but since such students will need to catch up, students who enrol between the end of week 1 and the end of week 2 are typically limited to enrolling in only two courses.
  • If you arrive late and enrol in Term 1 by 28 February, you should be aware of possible drawbacks:
    • The travel restrictions - if there are changes to the travel restrictions and, despite your best efforts, you do not make it to campus for Term 1, you will have until March 15 to take program leave until Term 2 and avoid the financial cost for your enrolled course/s.
    • Assessment - Check whether your enrolled courses have an assessment due that requires you to be onshore any time after 28 February and before the time you arrive. If that is the case there is a problem as you will unfortunately receive a score of 0 for that item.
    • Assessable items - some courses have a requirement that you must get at least 50% in all assessments. This means that if you miss an assessment (even if the weight is small) you will unfortunately fail the course. Details for the assessments and relevant dates can be found in the course outline (available in Moodle).

What if I need to alter my enrolment and the classes I now need to do in Term 2 and Term 3 are full?

  • If classes are already full in Term 2 and Term 3 affected students can either waitlist or complete a full class request. Your faculty will try to accommodate your request where possible.
  • Additional course offerings for Term 2 will continue to be updated and made available in March.

Can I take any courses online?

  • Affected international students who are unable to return may be able to do online study if this is available for Term 1. Program Authority advice may be required to ensure program progression is maintained. You can read the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency National Code of Practice for more information. Students may be asked for a personal statement documenting their situation.
  • Affected students can identify online courses that are relevant to their program through the UNSW Handbook and can enrol in these through myUNSW.
  • Affected international students do not need to request approval from International Student Experience before enrolling in online courses for Term 1.
  • Student visa holders, whose normal limit for online or distance learning is a maximum of one-third of their overall program, will be able to exceed this in Term 1 where online or distance learning study is considered in the student’s best interest (https://www.teqsa.gov.au/latest-news/articles/novel-coronavirus-also-called-2019-ncov-compliance-update-and-fact-sheets)

What will happen to my student visa if I defer until Term 2?

  • Commencing students may choose to defer until Term 2. 
  • The student visa will stay in place. However, the deferral process (for commencing students) results in the cancelling of the current Certificate of Enrolment (COE). A new offer from the university must be accepted before a new COE is processed. 
  • Students need both a valid COE and visa to gain entry into Australia 
  • We advise students to check the Visa Entitlement Visa Online (VEVO) system for updated visa details and conditions.

What will happen to my student visa if I take program leave?

What will happen to my accommodation and fees if I am unable to travel to UNSW for the start Term 1? 
 
The responses below are relevant for students with license agreements with the following on-campus accommodation providers:                

Barker Apartments; Basser College; Colombo House; Creston College; Fig Tree Hall; Foster College (Port Macquarie); Goldstein College; High St Apartments; International House; Mulwarree Apartments; Philip Baxter College; Shalom College; UniLodge (Anzac Parade); University Terraces; UNSW Hall; UNSW Village; Warrane College.

  • The University is working with all UNSW-owned, operated and affiliated student accommodation providers to help minimise the financial burden for students due to the government’s travel ban.  
  •  Students who hold a license agreement with most UNSW-owned, operated or affiliated accommodation providers (except New College and New College Village) will receive credit against accommodation fees paid to date once you arrive on campus. 
  • In most cases, there will be no charges for accommodation not used prior to arrival. There are no penalties for transferring accommodation to Term 2. 
  • Those who hold a lease agreement with a private landlord or another student accommodation provider such as Urbanest, please contact your landlord or provider directly to discuss arrangements.  
  • For students holding a license agreement with New College or New College Village, please contact the accommodation provider directly to discuss arrangements. 

Arrangements for higher degree research candidates

What happens if I can’t travel to UNSW to commence my research candidature in Term 1?

  • Higher Degree Research candidates can seek assistance from the Graduate Research School.
  • Term 1 will officially start on Monday 17 February 2020, however we will allow commencing candidates to enrol as late as 13 March 2020. Please keep your Candidature Management Officer informed of any delays to your arrival. 
  • If you cannot arrive in Australia with an appropriate visa by 13 March, you will need to organise an enrolment deferral by contacting Graduate Research School International at international.grs@unsw.edu.au. It is essential that you arrive in Sydney before completing Accept Online Part 2 and enrolling online.

When does Term 2 start?

  • If you do need to defer, you can start your Term 2 research candidature as early as 20 April 2020. More information about Term start dates can be found here

What happens if I can’t travel to UNSW to continue my research candidature in Term 1?

  • Term 1 will officially start on Monday 17 February 2020. If you are unable to resume study by that date, you will have until 13 March to finalise your enrolment details. If you are concerned that you will be delayed beyond this date, you may need to request to take Program Leave for Term 1, or, if overseas, request to work away. Information on how to apply for these variations to your candidature can be found here.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the Candidature Management Officer for your Faculty.

What will happen to my student visa if I take program leave?

  • If you are a continuing candidate and you decide to take program leave, your Confirmation of Enrolment will remain active, which means there will be no impact on your student visa. You can check your visa status through Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO)
  • If you have questions about program leave and your Confirmation of Enrolment and visa, please contact the Candidature Management Officer for your Faculty.

Activities on campus

Will UNSW cancel classes for the Summer Term or Term 1?

  • All UNSW classes are operating as normal. Like other universities and schools, UNSW is following the advice of health authorities to reduce exposure to the COVID-19. UNSW will continue to update students and staff as new information becomes available.
  • Most programs will be available in Term 2. You can view the list of programs available here. This list is being regularly updated.
  • The Department of Health has published a fact sheet with information for university and vocational education students and staff arriving from China.

What do I do if I am a staff member and my child is unable to attend school?

  • We are aware that some staff may need to take care of children who are unable to attend school due to NSW Government advice. You may be eligible for carer’s leave. Please contact your manager for further details.

Can staff members work remotely?

  • All UNSW activities are operating as normal. As usual, in accordance with UNSW’s flexible work guidelines, you should discuss appropriate arrangements with your manager.

What should staff members do if a student asks questions or raises concerns about their studies?

Protecting your health

What should I do if I am feeling unwell?

  • Any members of the UNSW community who are unwell or concerned about their health during working hours should contact their GP or a health professional. We suggest you call ahead, explaining your symptoms and travel history, rather than attend in person.
  • If you are feeling unwell, isolate yourself in a room away from others and seek urgent medical assessment.
  • Remain in isolation while waiting for results of the assessment.
  • NSW Health is advising individuals who have traveled from overseas in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms (fever, acute respiratory infection e.g. shortness of breath or cough) to seek medical attention.

Who should I call if I am feeling unwell?

  • The UNSW Health Service can be contacted on (02) 9385 5425 from Monday-Friday between 8.15am and 5.15pm.
    • If out of hours, contact the Local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.
    • Overseas students can call the Medibank OSHC Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283. Medibank has provided updated information to all nursing staff who take calls.
    • NSW Health has a free helpline, Health Direct, at 1800 022 222. Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide advice when you’re not sure what to do – whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition in isolation, or go to an emergency department. (*Calls are free from a landline; charges may apply from a mobile phone.)
    • The federal Department of Health has set up a 24-hour COVID-19 Health Information Line at 1800 020 080.
    • NSW Health has arranged for medical fees to be waived and covered for any international student who seeks treatment in relation to the COVID-19 issue.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
  • Those considered at high risk may have travelled from China recently or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • NSW Health is advising individuals who have traveled from overseas in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms (fever, acute respiratory infection e.g. shortness of breath or cough) to seek medical attention.

What should I do if I have travelled from Hubei province?

  • The Department of Health recommends returned travellers from Hubei province isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving Hubei province, other than for seeking individual medical care.
  • You should restrict activities outside the home except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transportation, taxis or ride share services until cleared by the public health unit.
  • UNSW has developed a home isolation guide based on advice from NSW Health.

What should I do if I have travelled from other parts of China?

  • The Department of Health recommends returned travellers from Hubei province isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving Hubei province, other than for seeking individual medical care.
  • The Department of Health recommends returned travellers who left China on or after 1 February 2020 isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving China, other than for seeking individual medical care.
  • You should restrict activities outside the home except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transportation, taxis or ride share services until cleared by the public health unit.
  • UNSW has developed a home isolation guide based on advice from NSW Health.
  • If you have travelled to another country from mainland China to see out the 14-day travel exclusion period, and have had no recent contact with people with COVID-19, you will be welcomed to Australia.

What should I do if I have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case?

  • The Department of Health recommends people who have been in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 cases be isolated for 14 days following exposure.
  • You should restrict activities outside the home except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transportation, taxis or ride share services until cleared by the public health unit.
What should I do if I am concerned about the health of a student, colleague, relative or friend?
  • Encourage the individual to seek immediate medical attention.
    • Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
    • Those considered at high risk may have travelled from China recently or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Medical attention can be sought via: 
    • The UNSW Health Service on +61 2 9385 5425 from Monday-Friday between 8.15am and 5.15pm.
    • If out of hours, contact the Local Public Health Unit on +61 1300 066 055.
    • Overseas students can call the Medibank OSHC Health and Support Line on +61 1800 887 283. Medibank has provided updated information to all nursing staff who take calls.
    • NSW Health has a free helpline, Health Direct, at +61 1800 022 222. Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide advice when you’re not sure what to do – whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition in isolation, or go to an emergency department. (*Calls are free from a landline; charges may apply from a mobile phone.
  • Assure the individual that NSW Health has arranged for medical fees to be waived and costs covered related to the COVID-19 assessment and treatment in people who do not have Medicare or overseas/travel insurance.
  • Reassure the individual that information that is medical in nature is treated confidentially by medical practitioners. There should be no fear in seeking help for any health condition in Australia.
  • If the individual declines to seek medical attention and you are concerned for your own health and the health of those around you, please contact the NSW Public Health Unit on +61 1300 066 055 and they will be able to advise you further.

Do face masks protect against COVID-19?

  • Australia's Chief Medical Officer has advised that face masks are not recommended or necessary for the general public.
  • The only people who should wear masks in relation to the COVID-19 are those who are unwell and have a relevant travel history.

What other precautions can I take to protect my health?

  • The World Health Organisation recommends individuals:    
    • frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    • when coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
    • avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
  • Please observe and comply with health-related signage around the University and hospitals.

Safety on campus

How do you know the accommodation and facilities on campus are safe?

  • UNSW is taking NSW Health advice, including the cleaning of facilities as required.
  • The University has upgraded its cleaning standards above its regular operations to reduce the risk of infection. These measures include:
    • Using bleach-based hospital-grade disinfectant cleaning products throughout the University. This includes all restrooms at Kensington.
    • Large numbers of pump hand sanitiser units have been ordered and placed at high-contact points throughout campus.
    • Additional training and education have been completed by cleaning contractors on cleaning processes, personal hygiene and personal protective equipment while conducting cleaning throughout the University.
  • Current medical advice is that there is no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 by being on campus.