University of Tasmania students are struggling to learn on-the-job skills as placements for the semester have either been pushed back or moved online due to pandemic restrictions.
James Belstead, of Launceston, is enrolled in his third year of bachelor of education with a major in health and physical education. A requirement of the degree is that he undertakes placement during his third year.
However, all he has been told is placement is postponed. He said no dates have been released to the students, nor has any information regarding whether placements will still go ahead or not.
“I think they will have to keep postponing until restrictions ease,” he said. “It’s not practical to teach health and physical education online.”
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Mr Belstead said he is worried as he does not have much experience in the field other than what is provided through the university, and believes people learn best through practical experience on the job.
Brooke Wallace, of Hobart, is undertaking a master’s of social work (qualifying). She said she now has to complete her required agency visits online.
Ms Wallace was disappointed she was not able to go out and see what happens on the job and is worried she will miss out on learning the valuable skills required without real world experience.
“I am extremely worried that I won’t learn all the important tools that I’ll need for the job,” she said.
“With social work being a profession that requires you to go out and talk to clients, I worry that talking through Zoom won’t enable me to get the same experience as talking to a client face-to-face.”
Ms Wallace said she also found that placement online is more exhausting than her previous experiences of working full-time.
“Constant meetings over Zoom are extremely tiring. I’ve worked full-time before and was never this tired at the end of the day,” she said.
Tasmanian University Union president Braydon Broad said he has seen quite a few students come forward, particularly from the medical side of the university, expressing doubts they will get the practical experience needed to complete their degree.
“We have raised those doubts with the university and we have been assured that everything will be fine,” he said. “However student concerns still persist despite that explanation.”
Mr Broad said students are worried as they don’t know what the future holds and any certainty they can be provided will go a long way for their mental health.
The university has been contacted for comment.