U21 Champions in the time of COVID-19: Andrea Strachan University of Queensland

University of Queensland- Andrea Strachan
University of Queensland - Andrea Strachan

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted thousands of UQ students. The full extent of impact is still unknown but is undoubtedly globally significant. Andrea Strachan directly assisted senior executive decision-making and action in UQ's sustained crisis response, and coordinated all communications and support for impacted students. 

Andrea established a Student Contact Centre overnight that, in successive days, evenings, and weekends between January and March 2020, provided responses to over 25,405 individual coronavirus enquiries (email, online, and telephone), ensured self-isolating accommodation, established hardship provisions (financial and physical), and support for the mental and emotional wellbeing of those impacted.

Andrea has worked intentionally and tirelessly including late nights and weekends to devise and implement innovative and practical ways to support both domestic and international students, ensuring they achieve the best possible UQ Student Experience despite extraordinary times. Her creative strategies to support international students enabled them to survive when they were cut off from financial support from home and work. Andrea's dedicated support of the Senior Management Team has been invaluable, as has her liaison with government, educational, private sector and community groups. She serves on the Vice-Chancellor’s and other UQ Crisis Management Groups and the QIET COVID-19 Response group. The best possible UQ student experience is Andrea's driving passion.

Andrea led (and leads) her teams to proactively encourage all students to engage with their curriculum and student experience, whether they are onshore or not. Student Services's work during COVID-19 supports the teaching, learning and ultimately student success of all those who persevere with their studies. Andrea fosters a culture of collaboration with all members of the University, ensuring her teams are equipped with the knowledge and resources to individually achieve their goals and the goals of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)’s portfolio as a whole - all the while, 'keeping students at the heart of all we do'.

Ms Strachan responded: 'I am honoured to lead teams of people of such significance, heart and fortitude.  The last twelve months have been incredibly challenging for our local and global community and the impact of COVID-19 is felt within our own community.  I recognise the many efforts of our UQ team in assisting our community in a variety of ways and I could not have led our teams without the support and leadership of the many colleagues within UQ, for which I am grateful.  I feel fortunate to work within HE where our organisations have such value and impact for our people, even in times of crisis. Although we are only part way through our response and yet to start on our recovery to the challenge of COVID-19, it is critical that we recognise the part we all have to play in helping our academic communities be courageous in their efforts to achieve success – something all colleagues across U21 should be proud of.'

Congratulations to Andrea and a huge thank you for helping us all to deal with this awful pandemic.

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