Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations

Swinburne's Hawthorn campus looking busy as face-to-face learning returns.
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A few weeks after broad on-campus learning returned to Swinburne University, a first-year journalism class went out to ask students how they felt about the change. Claudia Harvey compiled this report.

After two years of remote learning, Swinburne students are finding aspects of the return to campus a struggle.

Although the return to face-to-face learning is a welcome change, adjusting to life back on campus has presented a range of challenges.

Mental health and anxiety

One of the most prominent issues is the impact on mental health.

Design and media and communications student Steph Henderson said being back on campus took some getting used to.

“There’s the social anxiety of meeting new people and teachers,” she said. “Coming back to class is like a whole new reality.”

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Steph Henderson believes the return to campus could trigger students’ social anxiety.

Steph said having the option to either participate online or in person could lessen the anxiety that could be triggered by the sudden return to in-person classes.

Second-year student Ashidmar said an option to attend tutorials online would ease concerns about studying during the pandemic.

“There needs to be more online tutorials for the current circumstances we are in, especially for when people catch Covid,” she said.

Second year film and television student Julia Proctor said she thought the university needed to provide better mental health support.

“I have a lot of panic attacks on campus, and I think it would be nice to have a place to go specifically when that happens,” she said.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Julia Proctor would like there to be more support for students who suffer from anxiety.


Facilities and services

Others have found the university to be lacking in adequate facilities.

Second year students Gil Arafat, Brandon Peters, Ethan Cheah and Rachel Kemp all said they were frustrated with the number of “broken” escalators around campus.

Rachel said she was annoyed about the BA building escalators never working, resulting in students having to climb the stairs to reach their top-level classrooms.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Rachel Kemp is frustrated with lack of working escalators on campus.

“I am always really scared that the escalators are going to turn on while I’m climbing them,” she said.

Architectural engineering student Luke Valente said the biggest issue facing students on campus was a lack of cooking facilities.

“There is a lack of accessible kitchenettes to warm up food.”

Second year film and television student Cooper Bonetti said outdated equipment was having an impact on his learning.

“Learning tools aren’t reflective of the modern industry,” he said.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Cooper Bonetti said outdated equipment was an issue in studying film and television on campus.

An issue for interior design student Sophie was trying to access the school internet in certain parts of the campus.

“I’m struggling to have a constant internet connection when moving between buildings,” she said. 

Media and communications student Zach said that there was an “over-reliance” on technology. “Technology fails classrooms and teachers,” he said.

The online/in-class split

Electrical engineering and physics student James Cameron said the continued reliance on online content was the biggest disappointment about returning to campus.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Jesse GC would prefer less online content.

“There’s just too much time online,” he said. “I’m only on campus two days a week.”

Jesse GC agreed, saying they are “not the biggest fan of online lecture content”.

Reilly Peterson similarly said he would prefer more learning to be done on campus. “On-campus lectures have more appeal, making you feel like a real student,” he said.

Architectural engineering student Jasper Griffett said the balance of online and in person classes was problematic.

“Semi being online makes it difficult to get from being an in-person class to an online class” on time, he said.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Jasper Griffett said the balance of online and on campus study was a struggle.

Business student Sabrina Pittorino said she had noticed a difference in support when she came back to campus after a period of online learning.

“Online had a bit more support because it wasn’t done before.” she said.

Language barriers

International students, however, face a different set of obstacles.

International students Quang Anh, Jasmeen Kaur and Senarath Arachchige Bhaya Nirmani all said they found the language and accent barriers of studying in Australia to be a significant difficulty.

“I found it hard to communicate being an international student that came just two weeks ago due to the accent change,” Jasmeen said.

First year international student Quang Anh said he found the language barrier difficult to overcome after having moved to Melbourne from Vietnam only two months ago.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Quang Anh has struggled with the language barrier.

First year student Richa said what was hardest about learning on campus was simultaneously studying and settling into life in a new culture.

“It’s a big challenge I am going through now where I have to do this all at once.”

International student Maxi said the small Chinese student population at Swinburne left her feeling isolated. 

“There are a lot of international students but not many Chinese students.” 

International health science student Senarath Arachchige Bhaya Nirmani said it was hard to learn everything in English. “Everything in Swinburne works perfectly well to me except the accent.”

Getting around

Second year animation student Amelia said she found it hard to navigate her way around campus. “It would be good if there were more maps around,” she said. 

“I don’t come on campus very much, so I get lost easily,” she said.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Amelia said she gets lost on campus.

Fellow first year student Tiarne said the biggest issue she had experienced on campus was finding her way around the library and learning how to use facilities like the printers. 

“It’s difficult figuring out how to use the student card with the printer and trying to pay for the printing,” she said. 

Edward Addison raised issues with finding toilets on the map on his first day on campus. “I found those ones … but needed a student card to get into them,” he said. 

Social contact and finding a balance

Third-year animation and games student Jared said it was difficult to socialise since returning back to campus. 

“Everyone seems to be keeping to themselves once we got back on campus,” he said. “It’s hard to meet new people because I’m scared I’ll get Covid, so I just keep to myself.”

Second year film and television student Conor Elder said it was difficult to find “the balance between uni, work, socialising, mental health”.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Conor Elder has struggled with finding a university-life balance.

International business/media Comms student Lisa Lam said that it was hard for her to find a balance.

“It’s hard for me to balance out my social life and my uni life after lockdown, especially, dealing with all of the deadlines I have right now,” Lisa said.

Back on campus not all roses: Swinburne students share their frustrations
Lisa Lam said she struggled finding a university-life balance.

  • Interviews and pictures by students from the journalism unit JOU10004 News Writing, done on campus on Monday and Tuesday, April 4 and 5.