Life as an ANU engineering student in a pandemic

Matilda Dowse
Monday 14 December 2020

Everyone pulled together to support each other, and although it felt very different, there was a real sense that the entire university was working together.


Hi there! My name is Matilda Dowse, and I’ve just finished the 4th year of my engineering and science double degree at ANU. I have around a year left, with a thesis and many chemistry labs ahead of me in 2021.  

Much like the rest of you, my study in 2020 has been very different to previous years. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, ANU was able to ensure I still got the most out of my time at university. 

Lectures, tutorials, and most labs were hosted online. My tutors and course conveners went above and beyond to ensure that we were still actively engaging and learning. They hosted a dedicated drop-in session each week, where we could ask questions about the course content or assessments to ensure we weren’t falling behind. On top of that, any questions or concerns out of hours were answered quickly, with the more complex stuff discussed over a personal Zoom call if need be. My bioethics tutor even reached out to me for a one-on-one to discuss my essay plan, which drastically improved my final result and greatly helped my writing abilities.  

The teaching and administrative staff at ANU were very understanding, and supportive of any medical concerns, mental or physical. As a tutor myself, I made it a priority to check in on my students, to see if there were ways, I could improve my remote teaching or better support them. I included interesting or fun videos in my weekly updates, just to try and spice things up beyond the typical study material. Teaching staff did their best to share tips on ways to increase engagement and improve understanding. Whether it was adding in more supplementary content, or using jokes to make things more entertaining in online lectures. 

During COVID-19, plenty of facilities and services were still available on campus and online. Labs, libraries, student services and stores re-opened as soon as ACT restrictions eased sufficiently, allowing people to study in a hygienic, safe environment. For anyone online, there were additional educational resources to help you get the software or equipment required for your courses. Our student organisation, ANUSA, advocated for student welfare at each step and ran fun, online events to keep up the community spirit. ANU clubs and societies joined in. The Engineering society alone ran weekly coffee catch-ups and online gaming events to keep everyone going throughout the year. 

Everyone pulled together to support each other, and although it felt very different, there was a real sense that the entire university was working together. 

Heading into 2021, we know that Semester 1 will be delivered as a hybrid of virtual and in-person courses. I have full confidence that it will remain a great experience. Everyone has learned from 2020, and while I may not be able to do as many things in person that I had planned, I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue studying.  

If you ever want to chat about life as a student – particularly one studying remotely – feel free to send me an email. Otherwise I’m keen to see you online or (distantly) in-person at ANU in 2021! 


Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing