Coronavirus (COVID-19) Messages from our CEO:
Dear international students and agents,
As this COVID-19 period progresses I want to continue to keep you updated on how we are responding, and to create clarity for agents and students in relation to regular questions that are being asked of our team.
We’ve had a few questions in the past week around:
- What we are doing to help our students in their time of need
- What should students do if they’re facing financial hardship due to COVID-19
- How long might they need to study online for
- Is there a fee reduction during this term where they are temporarily undertaking more online study, before returning to campus
In response, I’ve written an open letter with quite a bit of detail, given the depth of the questions, I do hope you find this helpful and that it creates clarity.
As this challenging period has unfolded for us all, ECOC has had three key priorities:
- Protect the safety of students
- We sought to protect students and our staff, by closing the campus as quickly as possible, to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 to our students
- Importantly, we were not instructed by the government to do this, in theory we could still be delivering on campus with social distancing as education institutions are exempt from the indoor gathering rules
- For further information, see the DESE website and their most recent update, which states “Classes should continue as usual, unless the Department of Health or Chief Medical Officer advises otherwise. However, you should consider existing flexibility to conduct classes by online methods as appropriate”
- However, we shut the campuses as students weren’t comfortable being asked to come into campus, given the risk of infection, and rightly so; that would increase the risk of infection, and that would not have been fair of us to tell the students they needed to keep coming
- Ensure continuity of studies for students
- Prior to the announcement of COVID-19, we had already been preparing Trade Futures for integration into our delivery model for all students in all course types
- Given COVID-19, we accelerated the launch of the platform to ensure continuity and no lost time for our students
- Students have enrolled in a course that involves both theory, and practical
- The theory has been in the past taught on the campus, and the practical on the campus
- All we are doing in this adjusted delivery model, is for a temporary time during the period in which the campus is closed, is bringing theory forward from future terms that students would have had to do anyway, and pushing some practical back
- This means course durations are not affected, students are doing the same work they would have done anyway, but on a different platform and in a slightly different order
- When students re-enter the campus, they will be undertaking their theory on Trade Futures from now on, but will often do that in a classroom setting with a trainer available
- The only difference here, is that students are at home when they are doing it, on a temporary basis whilst the campus is not open
- This is why no fee reduction has been offered
- We have not switched students to an online Certificate III in Carpentry, Tiling or Bricklaying – we are just bringing theory forward from the course that needs to be done anyway, pushing some practical back so that when students come back on campus, they can carry on
- For a short period of time, we need students to be flexible, in working with us on this adjusted delivery model
- The only students who we thought may be at risk of having their course end date modified at this point, because of the adjustment, are those who are due to finish very shortly
- We are working with those cohorts directly to look at all options to minimise the impact for them, and to finish them on time
- Our Training Managers are engaging with these students and are actively working through the potential solutions, we are confident we’ll find appopriate solutions with them
To illustrate how theory and practical are just being switched in order, as opposed to replace, please refer to email message sent your inbox referring to Adjusted COVID-19 Temporary Schedule
3. Assist students suffering financial hardship
- The reality is that no matter how common a student may believe their circumstance is to another student, every student has different circumstances:
- Some have been here for many years, some haven’t
- Some have money saved, some don’t
- Some have access to superannuation, some don’t
- Some have support from home/family/friends, some don’t
- Some have applied for rental reductions via their property managers, some haven’t
- Some still have work, some don’t
- Some have better conditions in their home country to return to, some don’t
- This is why we have a financial hardship policy
- Our financial hardship policy is clearly outlined on Page 4 of the Fees, Charges and Refunds Policy and Procedure
- This policy allows individual students, to apply for financial hardship assistance. They share their individual circumstances with us, which allows us to assess their needs on an individual basis. Blanket policies would not be appropriate when students have differing circumstances
- It is also paramount that students do everything they can to continue to pay their fees as they agreed to before they started their course
- If they all started ceasing payments at the same time, there would be no college for students to return to as no college can survive without cashflow to cover the costs required to run a high quality training business
- The only circumstances in which its appropriate for students to change their payment terms with the college, is when there is written agreement with the college
- Should students withhold payments without agreement with the college (ie. have not applied for financial hardship and/or made a written agreement with the college), they do pose risk to their COE status
- We would encourage students if they are facing financial hardship, to apply, so that we can understand the situation and evaluate what we can do to help on an individual basis, as appropriate and as quickly as possible. Some students have already taken this step and their cases are being evaluated quickly
Data to support the short-term increased data requirement
- We recognise that whilst the campus is closed, and we are bringing more theory forward than normal that students who don’t have wifi, or sufficient wifi limits, could face an increased cost for data charges when accessing Trade Futures.
- Whilst we know that not all students will face this increased cost, we’d like to help as much as we can
- Next week students will receive instructions in relation to a support payment of $30 the college will make to all students, in both April, and then again in May ($60 total), to assist them with covering this increased cost whilst the campus is temporarily closed
- When the campuses re-open students will still have theoretical training on Trade Futures. Which device (BYOD, or devices we supply) is used to access Trade Futures for theory training, is yet to be determined
- If you are facing increased costs for data, we encourage you to complete the form you receive tomorrow in line with the instructions and dates provided so that you can receive your $30 support payment for April, and again in May
Going forward and current context
Australia’s current restrictions are working to slow the spread of the virus, as you can by this chart (taken from this link).
In addition, you can see that the WA (pink line), and QLD rates (orange line) are flattening well, and are significantly lower in volume than NSW
- If this progress continues, it is likely that the spreading will reduce, restrictions will progressively ease and students (and staff) will become more comfortable returning to the campus
- As mentioned, there is no current restriction that prevents educators from delivering on campus right now. We have taken precautions to shut campuses to appropriately prevent risks to student safety and wellbeing
- However, it’s not realistic that we would wait until there are no cases of COVID being reported before returning to the campus
- What is more likely is that by the end of this term (hopefully before, if appropriate), we will have re-opened the campuses and will be able to move back into practical activities, of course abiding by relevant social distancing requirements and continued and appropriate vigilance on hygiene
- In short, we don’t expect that students will be doing theory only continuously for the rest of the year or at this stage, even next term, but for now we do require some flexibility
- The caveat to this is that circumstances can change and we need to stay agile in this environment and be guided by Department of Health policy positions
- Should we find ourselves in a situation where students are facing another term of studying online (which we know is challenging when students are keen to be in the workshop, as are we), we would look at the implications of that and consider providing some additional support to students
- We don’t expect that to be the case, but this is an unprecedented pandemic and as such, we will remain agile, and do what’s necessary to protect the safety of staff and students
Brisbane students – Webinar next week on Trade Futures and the adjusted delivery schedule
- You’ll be pleased to know that we have had half of the Perth students on Trade Futures this week, and the feedback and engagement has been overwhelmingly positive
- Brisbane students will be kicking off this coming term on Monday 20 April
- Between now and then we thought it may be helpful for Brisbane students who have questions about Trade Futures, or studying online, or any other questions about the COVID-19 situation to attend a webinar (voluntary) this coming Wednesday the 15th of April
- We can talk you through on this webinar how your delivery will work, share with you what the Perth students have done this week, and allow plenty of time for questions and answers
- Brisbane students, if you’d like to attend this webinar, please keep an eye on your inbox as an invitation will come out on Tuesday next week
- If you can’t make it, we understand, we will record the webinar and make it available for you
I appreciate that this is a long letter, but important questions have been raised and I wanted to ensure we addressed them comprehensively.
I’m very proud of the Everthought team and how quickly they’ve adjusted the delivery model to support our students. Our hearts go out to students affected at this time and if you have been, please engage with us as mentioned above.
Overall, I’m confident that:
- our approach to safety has done a great job in protecting students and staff
- our approach to adjusting the timing of theory and practical will enable the vast majority of students to finish their courses on time, and that in no way have we shied away from or been unable to deliver on our promise to produce qualified, trained and proud professionals with high standards, capable of successfully working in the construction industry
- our approach to individual support for those experiencing financial hardship is helping those who’ve applied for it
- our student support payment will go some way to alleviating temporary increased internet costs for those students facing some, and
- the positive momentum in daily COVID cases is such that it is likely (but not certain), that we will be back in campuses by the end of this term
We can’t wait to have you back in the campus and will do so as soon as we believe it’s safe and appropriate to do so.
Chief Executive Officer
EdventureCo (Parent company of Everthought College of Construction)
Dear ECOC international students,
We hope that this finds you and your families in good health and safe environments during this difficult time for many.
As Australia continues its effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, we are of course keeping an eye on any information that could be relevant for our students, agents and partners.
Please find below, two updates from the team at ECOC:
- An update on the Trade Futures rollout, and some information on how it integrates with practical learning in our campuses, and
- Our response to a recent update by Department of Home Affairs on student visa extensions.
Trade Futures Rollout
The rollout of Trade Futures is going very well. All student logins have been created, and the Trainers are reaching out to all students systematically to onboard them in each campus to ensure they’re fully ready for the upcoming term start dates as per previous advice.
We held our first Virtual Orientation on Monday 30 March and it was very well received by all, an engaging and fun event.
Below is a little more detail for any students interested in how Trade Futures will integrate with our practical hands-on training in the campus
How will Trade Futures help me learn, what is a practical hands-on course by nature?
Trade Futures is the industry-leading trades training platform, and it’s used alongside practical supervised training by over 4,000 apprentices across Australia… so you won’t be getting a dud deal here in terms of having to do some study online, we won’t be giving you several months' worth of PDFs to read, quite the opposite, it will add a lot of value to what we’ll do in the workshop as soon as we can get back into it with you, and we appreciate your flexibility during this difficult time for everyone. Importantly, taking this approach will also allow you to meet the conditions of your COE.
Upon your return to the workshops, the focus then will be on the completion of practical tasks, demonstrations and assessments with your class.
Your training in the upcoming period will be broken down into 3 sections:
- Virtual instructor-led training
- Personal work, such as reading of materials, online research
- Trade Futures.
Virtual instructor-led training
- These will be live, scheduled presentations and discussions whereby all students attend online via Microsoft Teams, the session will be facilitated by an Everthought Trainer
- A link for scheduled sessions for that week will be emailed out to you on the Friday before your week of study
- There will be tasks to be researched, read or completed prior to your next training session
- Availability of the Trainer will be via email or phone for assistance with any tough content
- Online research
- Reading of learner resources
- Completion of work planning eg calculating the quantity of materials used for the job
- Using the Australian Standards to confirm work is planned out correctly
- Mobile-friendly platform which has course learning materials such as videos, and other learner resources, and manuals
- Theoretical content
- Online assessments
Home Affairs Update on Student Visa Conditions
A recent update by Department of Home Affairs outlines some updates for student visa holders in relation to working hours, and student visa extensions. A brief question and answer on implications for our students is below.
Can I work more than 40 hours a fortnight if my course is online?
- You cannot work for more than 40 hours a fortnight if your course is continuing, regardless of whether you are attending classes online or in-campus
Can I work more than 40 hours if I work in Woolworths / Coles or another supermarket?
- Yes, however these changes are short term and will be reviewed regularly. These measures apply to only existing workers in their existing roles.
- If you are working additional hours for supermarkets, we recommend you stay informed and take all your advice from the Department of Home Affairs.
Will I need more time to complete my course with Everthought, and therefore need to apply for a new visa?
- The integration of Trade Futures to complete theoretical training alongside practical training will continue, there are no plans to cease using it as a tool in the future - once the campuses re-open, Trade Futures will be used to deliver theory either at home or in the classroom, alongside our practical workshop training
Students due to complete their course any time after August 2020 (vast majority of students)
- In this next term, as previously advised, we will need to bring some theory forward and push some practical back to accommodate the government's guidelines and minimise contact and risk of infection. We fully expect, as we're sure you do, that the "lock down" measures will be temporary, so assuming you are due to complete your course any time after June this year, there is no current expectation that your course end date will be affected in any way - we're just re-ordering some theory and practical to adapt to this unusual time to ensure your progression
Students due to complete their course at the end of this next term (June 2020 finishers only)
- In this next term, as previously advised, we will need to bring some theory forward and push some practical back to accommodate the government's guidelines and minimise contact and risk of infection
- We are working on every way possible to have you finish on time
- We will be working with you directly to ensure completion within your current COE, or to extend your COE should that be a requirement.
Can I extend my student visa?
You need to apply for a new visa if:
- You cannot return to your home country and your visa is expiring
- You need more time in Australia to complete your course
What should I do about my visa?
- First, read the information above as to whether at this stage there's any likelihood that your course end date is going to be affected (for 95% of you, that is not expected to be the case).
- Please contact your migration agent, if you don’t have one let us know and we can recommend agents for you.
We look forward to continuing to work with you and support you as best we can through this challenging, but temporary, period.
Chief Executive Officer
EdventureCo (Parent company of Everthought College of Construction)
Dear existing students, valued agent partners and new students about to join Everthought College of Construction (ECOC) for the first time,
As you may be aware, the Federal Government and Department of Health continue to provide updates on the national response to COVID-19.
I wanted to make sure you’re all across the current implications on Training and Delivery at ECOC as things progress.
As of midnight last night (11.59pm 25 March) a range of additional prohibitions came into place, further expanding social distancing measures.
· Prior to this, at 5pm yesterday, we had already made the decision to close up the campus in Salisbury and commence loading up all current Brisbane student profiles onto Trade Futures and start the process of students logging on. We had a number of students complete this yesterday in Salisbury.
· Students have all been on term break for several weeks so there we have had no need to keep the campus open for this week. As of Monday 23 March, all of our Perth team have been working from home, preparing for the impending launch of Trade Futures.
New Brisbane and Perth Students – Due to Commence Virtual Orientation Monday, 30 March
As per emails and phone calls you have already received from Pooja Chhabra, your Orientation will be going ahead virtually, this coming Monday 30 March. You have been sent a separate email with all your login details for your Orientation. If you have not received this email, please reach out to [email protected] immediately.
Brisbane students - following your Virtual Orientation, you will be joining all returning students in the week commencing 20 April and will commence studies on the Trade Futures platform.
Perth students - following your Virtual Orientation, you will be advised as to your start date in April (it will be either the 6th, or the 14th of April) and you will commence studies on the Trade Futures platform.
Existing Brisbane and Perth Students - Due to Return for Next Term in April
Both Brisbane and Perth students: you will commence your studies for the next term on Trade Futures, our industry-leading trades-specific learning management system that you can access from your moblie phone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC.
· Perth - those due to return on Monday 6 April for next term start – your Trainer will send you the login details for Trade Futures on the Friday before you recommence.
· Perth - those due to return on Tuesday 14 April for next term start – your Trainer will send you the login details for Trade Futures on the Friday before you recommence.
· Brisbane – those due to return in the week commencing 20 April for the next term start, your Trainer will contact you to arrange your login to Trade Futures by next Friday 3 April.
Q: What will my training schedule look like next term?
· When you commence studies next term, your Trainer will explain how your training plan has been modified to leverage the power of Trade Futures to help you complete the theoretical training online that you would have otherwise done in the classroom, had the campuses been open.
· Your theoretical training will be brought forward, with your practical activities pushed back. The practical components will continue when the campuses re-open.
Chief Executive Officer
EdventureCo (Parent company of Everthought College of Construction)
Dear Students, Agent Partners, our Everthought Community,
We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, taking advice from Australian Government Department of Health, Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment and relevant State Ministers and Departments (QLD and WA). The Department of Health’s latest advice can be found here.
Key updates since our communication last week relevant to our students, agents and staff:
- Australia’s borders are now closed to everyone except for Australian residents, citizens and their family members, however anyone who is allowed into the country will need to self-isloate for 14 days
- Australian Government has announced level-four travel advice for Australia: Do Not Travel (outbound from Australia)
- Social distancing measures in place meaning no non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100
- For indoor gatherings, there must be 4 square metres for each person
- WA has implemented strict border control policies; any interstate arrivals will need to self-isolate for 14 days
- Australians should postpone all unnecessary travel (meaning interstate as well)
- Significant numbers of flights have been cancelled inbound to and outbound from Australia
Our response, and implications for Everthought students:
- All interstate and international staff travel has been cancelled
- We have stepped up over the last week even further all sanitation and hygiene requirements across our campuses
- We created a survey to immediately identify students overseas currently, those who planned to go, or recently arrived and also to understand student’s access to computers or internet at home in readiness for online delivery
- Whilst the 4 square metres rule for each person does not apply to universities, schools and other education providers we are abiding by this as a proactive measure anyway for Salisbury students still within their term, and for staff
- We are preparing for the inevitability of a campus lock-down, at some point it is possible that the government will require this, however at this time our Salisbury campus remains open, whilst Perth campus students are all on term break.
- We have been working hard to ready our online platform for delivery to ensure students can continue their studies with us, albeit in a slightly different delivery model for the time being
- Our intakes due to commence on Monday the 6th of April will continue as planned, see below the note regarding Trades Futures.
The move to Trades Futures
As per our note last week, the Department of Education is strongly encouraging the use of flexible delivery arrangements for students directly affected by travel and/or quarantine restrictions which prevent them from attending face to face classes in Australia. They and other relevant regulators are demonstrating strong support for providers to leverage online delivery models to allow students to continue their studies in a way that does not affect the student’s visa conditions or COE status.
For all students commencing their next term of studies on Monday 6 April, 2020 your training will still commence on this date. We will be leveraging our industry-leading online content platform, specifically designed for Trades Training called Trade Futures to deliver training to you.
The vast majority of the theory we need to instruct you in, and many assessments can be completed via this system. There are absolutely a range of assessments we will not be able to complete online, but these will be completed when you come back into the campus.
You will receive an email from your Trainer, or Student Services no later than Friday 3 of April advising you of the time of your orientation to Trades Futures on Monday 6 April. In that session you’ll learn all about how the system will work, and your trainer will work with you to confirm what units you’ll commence work on, how you will engage with them during this period and more.
You’ll love the new system, it really is state of the art training and will compliment the access you’ll continue to have to our industry leading Trades Trainers.
1.What do I do if I’m feeling unwell or fear I have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19?
If you are feeling unwell, or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 the Department of Health has set up a hotline for anyone who suspects they may have been infected with COVID-19. If you believe that you may be infected, please seek urgent medical assistance or call: 1800 675 398.
2.How will I get familiar with the online platform to learn how to use it?
During your induction on 6 April, you’ll be shown everything you need to know.
3.What if I don’t have access to a computer, tablet, or internet at home?
Contact someone from the college on 1300 723 862 and a team member will be in touch to discuss your situation.
4.If the campus is closed, how do I arrange payments for my studies?
5.How long will I need to study from home for?
Unfortunately at this stage it’s hard to know, as you can appreciate the situation is changing daily and this is a government-led situation. As soon as we can safely re-open our campuses for you, we will. You may still continue to use Trade Futures to assist your theoretical learning, but we look forward to having you back on campus as soon as we are able so we can provide the quality face to face instruction you are used to.
6.Given I’ll be undertaking training online, will it affect my visa conditions?
The Department of Education, Employment have made strong and supportive statements about flexibility required for international students to continue studies. In relation to visas specifically, the Department of Home Affairs has made statements about student visas found here. In short, if for some reason students required additional time to complete their studies beyond their visa expiry date, they would need to apply for a new student visa and receive a new COE. With our ability to switch delivery modes into online in the short-term, we do not currently forsee any risk of current or new students requiring more time to complete their courses. In all cases regarding visa questions, please refer to the Department of Home Affairs and your education agent in the first instance.
7.Will I still need to attend training on certain days and times, like when I come to face to face classes?
Yes, attendance at certain times and on certain days will be required – just like attending face to face training. Your Trainer will provide you with clarity regarding these requirements during induction on Monday 6 April.
8.Who will help me if I have questions about the online platform and how to use it?
Your Trainer will be able to assist you with Trade Futures, and if they need further support there are other staff within the college who can assist.
We will continue to monitor any changes in guidelines issued by the federal and state governments. In the meantime, we are open for business and as always, are here to support you.
Chief Executive Officer
EdventureCo (parent company of Everthought College of Construction)
Dear Students, Agent Partners, our Everthought Community
In light of the global developments with COVID-19, based on guidance from the Australian Government Department of Health and other government bodies, we would like to advise of the direction which Everthought College of Construction is taking in relation to the current impact of Coronavirus in Australia. The risk to individuals here in Australia remains low, and scheduled classes will continue as planned until further notice.
The safety and wellbeing of all our students, partners, employees, and guests is of paramount importance and remains our top priority. Everthought College of Construction is closely monitoring the situation, taking direction and guidance from the Australian Government Department of Health should the situation change.
In relation to Health and Safety
In response to the coronavirus, we have taken additional measures developed in consultation with global and local public health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to make our cleaning and hygiene protocols at all our Everthought College of Construction campuses even more rigorous:
- We have increased the frequency of cleaning our public areas (including classrooms, door handles, public bathrooms etc.) and have continued the use of hospital-grade disinfectant.
- We have increased the deployment of antibacterial hand sanitizers.
At Everthought College of Construction, we are also undertaking precautions as recommended to the wider community to ensure a safe environment for all our students. This includes, but is not limited to the following precautions:
- If you are displaying any flu like symptoms, we request that you do not attend classes at any campus and advise the college of your symptoms.
- Reminding all students, staff and guests they must not attend if they have been to a country considered at higher risk of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Global regions currently identified as higher risk for COVID-19 include Mainland China, Iran, Italy and Korea.
- If you have left, or transited through mainland China, Iran, Korea or Italy in the last 14 days, we ask that you do not attend an Everthought College of Construction campus for 14 days from the date of travel.
- If you entered Australia from any location from 15th March 2020 you must following the self-isolation requirements as directed by the Australian Government and we ask that you do not attend an Everthought College of Construction campus for 14 days from the date of travel.
- If you have been in close contact with a proven case of coronavirus, we ask that you do not attend an Everthought College of Construction campus for 14 days from the date of last contact with the confirmed case.
- We are introducing a no handshake policy to support the continued health and wellbeing of all our students and teaching staff.
In relation to Training and Delivery
The Department of Education is encouraging the use of flexible delivery arrangements for students directly affected by travel and/or quarantine restrictions which prevent them from attending face to face classes in Australia. They and other relevant regulators are demonstrating strong support for providers to leverage online delivery models to allow students to continue their studies in a way that does not affect the student’s visa conditions or COE status.
There are no planned changes to your intake dates or term break dates at this point. In the event of a campus closure, we can confirm that we have the necessary learning materials available for you to continue your studies under the instruction of your Trainer, in an industry-leading online content platform specifically designed for Trades training and using video-conferencing technology. Your Trainer and student services staff will work with you to ensure you can continue your studies from home in the short-to-medium term as required.
Students about to commence in a new course
If you are about to join Everthought College of Construction for the first time in the next few weeks, we can confirm there are no planned changes to your start date. If between now and then there is a temporary campus closure, your Trainer and student services staff will work with you in a different delivery model to ensure you can commence your studies on-time but from home, leveraging an industry-leading online content platform specifically designed for Trades training and using video-conferencing technology.
The Department of Health has set up a hotline for anyone who suspects they may have been infected with COVID-19. If you believe that you may be infected, please seek urgent medical assistance or call: 1800 675 398.
If you are unsure about any information provided above, please call us on 1300 723 862.
We will continue to monitor any changes in guidelines issued by the CDC and/or local public health authorities. In the meantime, we are open for business and as always, are here to support you.
We sincerely appreciate your ongoing support and flexibility during this time.
Chief Executive Officer
EdventureCo (parent company of Everthought College of Construction)