Partially Refund McGill Students’ Tuition for Winter 2020 and Summer 2020
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On March 12th, 2020, McGill University announced that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person lectures would be changed to remote teaching for the remainder of the Winter 2020 and Summer 2020 semesters.
On April 24th, 2020, McGill University also announced that the tuition fees could not be refunded: “As [the university is] offering the educational services that [they] originally set out to provide, there will be no general consideration of refunds of tuition fees for Winter 2020.” Principles Governing Refunds for Disrupted Activities
While online teaching was the best way to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading and to protect every person in McGill’s health and safety, it is completely unreasonable for the students to pay the full cost of tuition. This contention is based on 3 main factors.
1. Reduced Quality of Education:
- The fact that school has transitioned to remote teaching means that we students are not gaining the same level of teaching from the university since the last date of in-person instruction, March 12th, 2020. While the school was preparing for the remote teaching, a period of 2 weeks (11 days) out of 13 weeks was lost. However, some of the courses and the tutorial sessions were still not offered online even after the suspension. Some courses have provided last year's recordings and some courses completely cancelled the rest of the classes.
- While some courses could be done online without any problem, some courses had to be cancelled for the rest of the semester. It’s not fair to equalize what every student was offered. The experience we missed significantly lowered the quality of education that we believed we would be offered. (e.g. labs)
- It is only with the expectation of high quality, in-person instruction that most students agreed to take on the financial burden of taking out overwhelmingly large amounts of loans. However, this is now no longer a possibility for students. We are now stuck paying those tuition fees for online classes, even though some of those were cancelled and we were not able to fully learn the material.
2. Unfulfillment of Campus Life and Activities:
- The fee includes ancillary fees (student services fee, athletics and recreation fee, activities, resources) and tuition fees. With the recent closure of the campus due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, however, we no longer can benefit from some of these programs and services. The costs of maintaining these initiatives and services have been greatly reduced because there are fewer individuals to accommodate.
3. The Financial Impact on students:
- Full-time students are considered to be low-income earners, and due to this decision, they are burdened by the cost of the impact of the coronavirus on academic resources. This decision puts students under great financial pressure, especially to those international students (31.9%) who pay $18,110 - $48,747 a year. On top of that, not everyone is eligible for Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) financial aid. It is no longer fair to charge students for such a high tuition fee, nor is it students' responsibility to pay.
We do believe that McGill has worked hard to overcome this situation. They closed the university, make an effort to ensure the studies could be continued on a cloud platform, “Zoom” and have been continuously updating news. Still, there are some things McGill can do to support students and ensure quality education.
McGill University is better equipped to bear the financial burden than us students. The students should be discounted for whatever that was not offered and will not be offered for Winter 2020 and Summer 2020.
We thus sincerely request that McGill University partially refund all demanding students for both terms.
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