At the beginning of 2020 Xinyi Xu was looking forward to a promising year. With a Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Scholarship from the University of South Australia, she was about to fulfill her dream of studying abroad.

“I booked the air ticket, packed my suitcases, even booked the O-week events like the international student welcome reception and guided city tours. I was eagerly anticipating my life in Adelaide, to join UniSA clubs, volunteer in the local community and make new friends.”

But before Xinyi Xu could get on the plane to Adelaide, COVID-19 changed everything. A global pandemic was declared, and it caused widespread disruption across the world. This included the closure of country borders which meant Xinyi Xu was no longer able to travel to Australia to commence her double degree studies in the Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Business (Finance).

Xinyi Xu studying her UniSA degree online from China while she waits to join her fellow students and new friends on campus in Adelaide.

It was disappointing for Xinyi Xu who saw her study plans disappear overnight. When the University approached her with the option of studying externally, until borders opened again, Xinyi Xu was initially hesitant.

“At first, I was unsure about this option. Will the external mode be as effective as the internal one? After sending a lot of emails to ‘Ask Campus Central’ and course coordinators, I finally changed my enrollment to external mode,” says Xinyi Xu.

It was a decision that Xinyi Xu would not regret and with the support of university staff and fellow students, she began her studies online. Xinyi Xu quickly adapted to her new study environment and found herself enjoying the experience, ending the semester with fantastic results. She received high distinctions in all three of her courses, finishing with a GPA of 7.0. She credits her success to the support she received with responsive teaching staff who were always happy to help and peer assisted study sessions (PASS) from students who had previously done well in the same courses.  

“I got responses from teachers quickly, which helped me significantly understand the materials of the course. Also, PASS session provided extra help for me to review the contents of the course as well as interacting with fellow students.”

As well as embracing her online learning with the University, Xinyi Xu has also enjoyed the chance to engage in virtual events including career workshops and individual phone consultations with learning advisers.

“These online events evoked my excitement about university life, and I appreciate all the great work through this hard time.”

In light of the worldwide health emergency, as a result of COVID-19, the University of South Australia has moved towards a new ‘study online now and transfer to on-campus later’ mode to enable students to continue their studies. Students are sent customised study plans to help map out their online to on-campus journey so they can continue with their study and transfer to Adelaide as soon as they can travel again. It’s a helpful solution and temporary measure for students like Xinyi Xu who can’t wait to come to Adelaide.

“As a member of the community, I am willing to do whatever I can to make it thrive. I am looking forward to seeing all of you guys when I come to Adelaide!”