The coronavirus pandemic has affected the way universities operate, ‘forcing’ both students and institutions to embrace a new way of learning. Fortunately, education institutions all over the world have managed to successfully switch to online study and students had no other choice but to comply or miss classes altogether.
Although online classes are crucial to progressing with education amidst a pandemic, students in Canada, as well as in other countries of the world, have been objecting the decision to pay the same amount of tuition fees, as they did for in-person classes. In Canada, specifically, many universities have even increased their fees despite online classes, causing turmoil among students.
Universities which were reported to have increased their tuition fees include both Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, N.S., by 3%, McGill University in Quebec by 3.1%, the University of New Brunswick by 2%, the University of Winnipeg by 3.75%, the University of Calgary by 7% for newcomers, while those who are returning will be paying 5% more. In addition, a tuition fee increase has been reported at Lakehead University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Calgary as well.
Many students have been dissatisfied with online classes and having to pay full tuition fees. Saint Mary’s University’s student, Blair Nicholson, does not believe online classes should equal a higher cost, reports Global News. “ don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think [tuition fees are] justified because the lower quality of education isn’t something that should cost more,” he said.
Universities, however, also have a say on tuition fee increases across the country. According to Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, the representative body for universities in the country, offering online classes means that the cost of offering instruction also increases. The experience is not simply “transferring content online”, claimed Davidson, it is also “redesigning the courses and thinking of new forms of pedagogy, thinking about new tools and new resources that are available,” he said.
Additionally, students are doing as much as they can to reverse the tuition increases. A student of Kings University College at Western University, Kanvi Gupta, has created a petition where international students can express their dissatisfaction by signing against ‘tuition hikes’.
“We are living in a time where people have lost lives, loved ones and jobs/source of income to even earn enough to keep up with the necessities. At a moment where everything is uncertain and no one knows how long will it take it to be normal again, Western University decided to increase the fee for all international students, which not only has affected students mentally but financially as well,” Gupta wrote.
However, students in Canada are not the only ones facing tuition fee issues. The UK announced just recently that EU, other EEA, and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status due to Brexit, starting 2021. Earlier in the year, students in the UK petitioned for reimbursement of tuition fees, claiming online classes do not equal full tuition fees.