N.B. university students decry tuition increase as classes move online
FREDERICTON -- A number of Maritime universities have indicated their classes will be primarily held online for the foreseeable future. In some cases, that’s resulting in higher tuition for students, who are wondering why they’re being asked to pay more, if they’re not even on-campus.
The post-secondary school year is going to look a lot different for many students and faculty across the Maritimes.
COVID-19 has forced many classes to move from campus to computer, and University of New Brunswick student union President Sean MacKenzie believes the quality of education will suffer.
“You don’t have that ability to get that hands-on experience if you’re in a field that may require that,” says MacKenzie. “If that’s where your strength of learning is, that hands-on experience, it could impact.”
The students’ union doesn’t believe they should have to pay as much for that, let alone more.
But tuition is expected to go up by 2 per cent this year at UNB.
“I don’t really think its right to have students have to absorb the burden of the financial struggles of the university right now, especially when we’re all experiencing our own financial struggles,” says MacKenzie.
UNB says the increase is "tied to a multi-year agreement with the province of New Brunswick."
In an interview with CTV News last week, UNB’s Vice President Academic says he doesn’t believe the quality of education will suffer.
“We’ve gone out to each of our faculties and asked them, based on their knowledge and what’s best for their programs, what would work best for their students,” says George MacLean. “So it’s going to be a blend, it’s going to be a mixed system of in-person and remote teaching.”
There will still be students on campus, and research activities will continue, there just won’t be as many. But lots will be online and that transition costs money.
“There’s a large amount that’s needed for personnel and technology to be able to deliver programs remotely,” says MacLean. “Imagine, for instance, a wet lab. That means that students who aren’t here need to have a lab kit at their home to be able to interact remotely with their instructors. That’s an expensive option.”
Mount Allison University is also increasing tuition by 4.5 per cent for Canadian students.
Thousands of students at UNB and Mount Allison have signed petitions asking for the universities to reconsider.
MacKenzie says he’s heard from many students who support the move to online learning, saying they understand it’s for the health and safety of the campus community. But he’s still hopeful UNB will reconsider the tuition increase.