University concedes to vet students’ demands

11 June 2020

The University of Melbourne has adjusted its accommodation of veterinary students following pushback after its announcement that students would be evicted from Kendall Hall because of COVID-19 restrictions.  

In a May 26 meeting between the Melbourne Veterinary School and veterinary students, it was revealed that fourth-year students with accommodation at Werribee Campus had five business days to leave Kendall Hall, in time for their return to working at the University Veterinary Hospital.

Alternative accommodation has been provided at Lincoln House in Carlton, about a 30-45 minute drive from Werribee Campus.

But, according to veterinary students, they were initially expected to pay the increased fees for living in the apartments. Students wishing to stay at Kendall Hall for overnight shifts at the hospital were to pay a room-hold fee and vacate their room at Lincoln House. 

Kendall Hall allows small pets, but according to students at the meeting, the University had provided no arrangements for students with pets, despite Lincoln House having a strict no-pets policy.

During the week they were notified of the eviction, fourth-year students were also required to complete online assessments worth 20 per cent of their final grade.

“We’d been given this information on the Tuesday, literally while we were doing the assessment,” said a student, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s akin to being given this kind of information during the exam period.”

After criticism from veterinary students, the University allowed an extra week for students to leave Kendall Hall and either move to Lincoln House or find other accommodation.

The University has also provided accommodation for pets at Werribee Campus.

According to the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, the university will be paying the extra cost for students to stay at Lincoln House.

But the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) says that students have contacted their legal services because the University is refusing to pay relocation expenses.

“We are very concerned that Kendall Hall isn’t ensuring that students do not pay for this relocation,” said UMSU General Secretary Jack Buksh.

UMSU has also criticised the University for sourcing accommodation so far from Werribee Campus.

“The University should be ensuring that students are given the financial and logistical support to live closer to Werribee Campus,” said Buksh. 

“An ensuite room at Lincoln House costs $360 per week – with the University subsidising the extra cost of these rooms, surely they could have subsidised other living arrangements for students to remain closer to Werribee Campus.”

The faculty has said larger industrial kitchens at Lincoln House means less sharing of facilities and ensuite rooms allow students to self-isolate.

A spokesperson for the University told Farrago that limited bathroom and kitchen facilities at Kendall Hall meant the 38 fourth-year students cannot be accommodated in accordance with public health advice.

According to the University, 17 students have accepted accommodation at Lincoln House.

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