Annoyed, sympathetic, and confused are some words that Calgary post-secondary students have used to describe feelings around university fees after confirmation that online learning will continue for the remainder of the academic year.
Both the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University recently informed students that the remote learning environment will remain in place for the rest of the year.
Some students have expressed frustration. Others say they understand.
“It definitely irritates me,” said Nick Simms, a third-year Bachelor of Science Student at UCalgary.
“Especially when I’m losing all the support and stuff I would normally have in person.”
He added that students can’t use half the facilities anymore because they’re not physically there.
“But we’re being charged for the maintenance and upkeep of the building.”
While campus remains open, the majority of the amenities such as the gym and the library are working at a modified capacity.
The gym is only open for a number of hours, and students have to book study spaces in advance for the library.
The library is also only open for a limited number of hours.
“The last two years, I’ve always used the gym,” said Simms.
“I don’t go to the gym for obvious reasons, I just workout at home.”
He suggested that the university adopt a similar model to the health and dental benefits plan, where you can opt out if you won’t use the services available.
Quality of education is an issue for some
It isn’t just the non-instructional fees that have been a concern for students.
Some say that the quality of education online in comparison to physical classrooms is lacking.
“As much as we try to adjust to a virtual learning format a lot of the aspects of group work or group assignments and general interaction with professors are a lot more complicated,” said John Pong, a fourth-year business administration student at MRU.
Despite this, he doesn’t think that instructional fees should be decreased.
“Having that cut would basically effect everything in terms of staffing and providing the right education to students,” said Pong.
“I think a reaction to COVID by reducing tuition prices won’t be good.”
Transition to online learning a difficult one
Mount Royal’s administrative staff say that maintaining the quality of education is their number one priority.
“We have top quality faculty and instruction, that’s the case whether in person or with your alternative delivery,” said Annalise van Ham, the university’s VP of Finance and Administration.
“That’s been our focus.”
She added that it’s been a difficult transition to online and remote learning. Especially for MRU, who is well known for their small class sizes and their student-to-professor interactions.
Similar to UCalgary, MRU’s services, including academic counselling and recreation are available and open for students.
Tuition costs remain unchanged at both post-secondary institutions. Some fees, such as UPass and other on-campus facility fees have been waived at UCalgary.