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Time to make online education like on-campus experience: UNSW Sydney

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Amid Covid-19-disrupted academic year, cancelled classes and examinations, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has taken a big leap forward in terms of online education for its global student community. According to Amit Dasgupta, India Country Director, UNSW Sydney, at present, the online platform is the most viable and robust platform to deliver to students seeking world-class education from a world-class institution.

“The UNSW quickly recognised that Covid-19 would usher in social distancing and travel restrictions that would clearly impact on-campus learning,” Dasgupta told IANS. The university saw this unforeseen and massive disruption as an opportunity and embraced the online platform as the new normal. “While the perfect online education is yet to be developed, it is as close to the on-campus experience as possible,” Dasgupta added.

The UNSW Sydney, ranked 43rd in 2019 QS World University rankings, is keen to step up its engagement with students from all over the world. Mohona Chakraborty, first-year student, dual bachelors, engineering and commerce from UNSW, said: “Our online classes began almost immediately after lockdown and the transition was comparatively smoother than I imagined”.

There are several reports that suggest that the future workplace would be dramatically different from the workplace we are currently used to.

“Many refer to this as the virtual office space. Our accountant might be based in Chennai, our executive assistant in Paris, our colleagues spread over New York, Tokyo and Sydney, and we, ourselves, might be living in Cape Town. Daily interactions would accommodate time zones and embrace technology platforms to interact,” Dasgupta explained.

“Cost-cutting and enhanced efficiency would be the core mantra of the day. This is what the future would look like and if students wish to be employable and work-ready, online education is the first step in that direction,” he added.

While online education was being offered by some institutions, it lacked sophistry and was perceived more as a part-time experiment and was also confused with correspondence programmes.

According to the UNSW Sydney, the robust entry of the online platform will dramatically disrupt the educational landscape for the better because of its ability to reach a wider audience and provide top-quality education at a minimal cost.

“While campus-based learning is not going to disappear in the near and foreseeable future, it has critical shortcomings. Online education, using the mobile phone, for instance, can achieve far more,” said Dasgupta.

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