Reduce Tuition for Remote Learning

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University of Toronto has released changes for the upcoming 2020 Fall semester and is working remarkably to prioritize the health, life, and safety of students and the community. Accordingly, almost all courses are going to be offered online. For many of the courses, remote learning is the only option.

While the University is very optimistic insisting remote learning offers the same excellent and quality education as in person learning for all students— We disagree.  We believe remote learning and in person learning are fundamentally different and cannot provide the same quality education for everyone. Many laboratory courses being offered online cannot provide students the experiential learning that comes with using laboratory equipment and practical experimentation. For courses that rely heavily on hands-on learning, it simply does not make sense to go online. Connectivity problems and technical difficulties, distractions from other students, and interruptions are few of the many problems impairing online learning. Other students living in different time zones would need to attend online classes during midnight and other unfavourable times.

Additionally, students will lose and miss out on the human to human interactions in real-time, that is, chatting with a professor and fellow students before and after classes, asking questions in real-time, solving problems with other humans, etc. We acknowledge the University is showing sensitivity to the issue and recognizes this academic component by prioritizing human contact for smaller classes where human interactions are rich. Yet, this does not translate for a broad range of courses. Remote learning may work for some and not for others. We should be having an option in the modality of instruction especially since we did not enroll in an Online University.

More importantly, UofT has lowered incidental fees by 40% for campus facilities and services—instead of eliminating them— because they believe that even though the buildings are closed, they are still providing those services online. With the same logic, Universities need to lower tuition for online learning since it is subpar and not the in person education for which many domestic and international students chose to enroll at the University in the first place. 

In addition, the economic challenges and job loss forcing some students to discontinue their education must be taken into consideration. The University should not redirect responsibility for the policies provoking conditions of uncertainty and creating the need for students to forgo and discontinue studies, painting it as an individual issue.

Having students pay the same full tuition for remote learning as for in person learning breaches the University's academic agreement in providing superlative education for which an unforeseeable circumstance cannot be a reason for blame. We are reaching out to the President and Governing Body of UofT to be fair and that decisions be made in the best interest of students. We demand justice and tuition be reduced to reflect the change in course delivery as well as our loss of in-person quality education, campus facilities, and the related resources covered in tuition fees.

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