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SAIT makes switch to online education due to coronavirus

SAIT has decided against in-class education and opted for online program delivery for the fall 2020 semester.

Vice President of Academics, Dr. Brad Donaldson, published a school-wide email Wednesday in regards to what students could expect for the upcoming school year.

“Working with the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, we have made the decision to deliver the majority of Fall 2020 programming online,” he wrote.

Students aren’t happy to make the digital shift

Michaela Pitman, a South African international student at SAIT for a communications diploma, said she isn’t happy with the quality education in the switch to online delivery.

“This isn’t what I paid for, it’s not what I anticipated and it’s not what I signed up for,” she said.

“I signed up for college and to be in class. I mean, if I wanted, I could have just stayed back home in South Africa and done online courses from home. It would have been cheaper.”

As an international transfer student with a two-year diploma, Pitman pays up to $20,000 per year in tuition. She said the quality of online education doesn’t match her higher tuition payments.

“I have an instructor whose face I’ve literally never seen,” she said.

“He is an introvert, I have no idea what he looks like I just know his voice, it’s really impersonal.”

Pitman is looking forward to her next year of school. She’s hoping that in the spring 2021 semester, she can once again return to the classroom.

“I can’t wait to go back,” she said.

“I start my third semester in January next year so I’m hoping by then, I will be able to go back to class.”

Uncertain future of AIT programs for students with new online delivery

Unlike other institutions, SAIT faces different issues within their curriculum. The polytechnic provides industry training and apprenticeships (AIT) to students. These “hand-on” programs struggle to adhere to the province’s health restrictions.

In Donaldson’s school-wide email, he said the next steps for students in industry training and apprenticeship programs are still uncertain.

“We continue to work closely with Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) to determine how to continue this very hands-on training,” he wrote.

“This will involve a combination of online and in-person training. Apprentices will hear more from AIT and SAIT as details become available.”

SAIT said they don’t have know how those programs will be delivered.

“We are still in the process of working with AIT to determine program delivery,” a statement from the school read.

“We anticipate a combination of online and classroom, but specifics are still being looked at.”