University of Calgary students concerned about paying for inaccessible service due to COVID-19 got some relief this week.
The switch to online delivery, public health rules and recent budget cuts are challenges post-secondary schools all over Alberta are facing as the fall semester approaches.
Universities like Mount Royal, U of C and the University of Alberta have altered their class schedules to have a bulk of online programming in light of COVID-19.
Most universities have indicated they’ll limit the number of students on campus to 30 per cent of normal levels.
Students are worried about the fall semester
While courses and delivery have been changed some universities haven’t changed their fee and tuition payment options. For U of C students, the inability to pay tuition and fees weighs heavy on their wallets.
Most full-time U of C students will pay up to $10,000 per year, with fees for services like campus recreation and athletics.
The total fee for services is over $1,100 per year, putting stress on incoming and returning students.
Ryan Al Sakaf, a fifth-year economics student, said he understands the public health restrictions. But they shouldn’t be charged for them if they can’t use them.
“It’s dumb. Why am I paying for things that I can’t use,” said Al Sakaf.
“I understand that teachers need to get paid but they could reduce the fees on the services we don’t get to use to something more reasonable.”
Al Sakaf is among thousands of students sharing worry over tuition and fees.
Students across Canada are worried about their education during this pandemic, according to May 15 data from Statistics Canada.
Of the 100,000 students surveyed, more than 40 percent are worried about their current expenses and paying their next term’s tuition and accommodations.
U of C students were frustrated and confused, left waiting for the University’s action on associated fees.
Student Union President Frank Finley heard students voice similar concerns.
“I’ve heard from students that without the same summer jobs due to COVID, they are worried about not being able to pay for their education,” he said.
Finley echoed the student body’s hope for fee adjustment. The U of C has since addressed students’ financial concerns for the 2021 fall semester.
U of C reassures students on fee payments
The U of C said Wednesday that students wouldn’t pay fees for services that aren’t available to them, but tuition will remain the same.
“Our investments in delivering excellent remote education are supported by the current level of tuition – Students will only be required to pay fees for what is available for their use,” read an email from a U of C spokesperson.
They said students wouldn’t be charged fees for access to on-campus services such as recreation facilities. It’s unclear how broad a range of student services it includes.
Finley said they’ve also heard questions on the quality of online education and if the same tuition fee is justified.
“People are asking, is the quality of our education going to be the same? Are we going to have the same experience at university?” Finley said.
Al Sakaf said with students enrolled in spring/summer classes, they haven’t seen a fee reduction for classes.
That’s left Al Sakaf to wonder what he gets for the money being spent.
“Classes are changed now, I do everything online so I’m not getting the full experience. I’m paying full price,” he said.