UTAS students seek refund for semester of French

PAYMENT: Launceston student Mia Griffiths is one of half-a-dozen students wanting a refund from the University of Tasmania. Picture: Paul Scambler
PAYMENT: Launceston student Mia Griffiths is one of half-a-dozen students wanting a refund from the University of Tasmania. Picture: Paul Scambler

Students are fighting for the University of Tasmania to refund course fees after teaching themselves when communication with their lecturer went unanswered.

Mia Griffiths, 22, is in her second year of studying French at the University of Tasmania in Launceston.

In the first semester this year Ms Griffiths and her classmates taught themselves the subject after poor communication from their teacher and a lack of resources hindered their learning.

With the course’s teacher based in Hobart, students in Launceston and Burnie use video-link and recorded lectures to study.

For several weeks no lectures were posted online, leading Ms Griffiths to question the dedication of her new lecturer.

“I noticed within the first couple of weeks but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and expected that maybe things were just starting a bit slowly,” she said. 

“But then it didn’t get better, it got worse.

“I asked a lot of questions and the ones about why there were no lectures, which were my biggest concern, he completely ignored,” she said.

After her questions were continually ignored Ms Griffiths went to UTAS Head of School Tony Simoes da Silva.

Mia Griffiths.

Mia Griffiths.

In emails seen by The Examiner, Mr Simoes da Silva acknowledged the concerns raised by the students.

“To say that I am unhappy about what I have read is an understatement,” he wrote in response. 

In the email he addresses some of the students’ concerns about a lack of available material. 

With Ms Griffith’s teacher not responding to communication and exams approaching, a small group of French students sought another UTAS lecturer to tutor them.

Ms Griffiths said Mr Simoes da Silva was helpful, but said she was still charged with a $793 fee despite having to teach herself.

“We’re still left with the issue of payment for the class that the uni didn’t help us through whatsoever,” she said. 

The Examiner understands the teacher no longer works at the university. 

A spokesman for the university said it would work with students to find a solution to their concerns.

"The University of Tasmania is committed to excellence in teaching across the breadth of its curriculum,” he said. 

“We also have robust systems in place to deal with student concerns about teaching quality should they arise.

"If students have ongoing concerns​​, we urge them to talk to us. 

“We will work with them with a view to resolving their issues."

Ms Griffiths claimed the students were “completely forgotten about” and disadvantaged because they were not in Hobart.

“The university has many shortcomings,” she declared. 

“I’m constantly being advertised to on Google and Facebook by the university and it makes it look so amazing.

“When you’re in it, especially if you’re in it in Launceston and I imagine Cradle Coast, the uni doesn’t care about you.”