Avoid increasing tuition fees for 2020-2021 during COVID-19

Avoid increasing tuition fees for 2020-2021 during COVID-19

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Mount Allison University has recently decided to increase the tuition fees for the 2020-2021 academic year by a further 4.5 percent to a total of $9,165 for full-time students that are not permanent residents of New Brunswick.

Without considering the COVID-19 pandemic, Mount Allison's tuition fees were already alarmingly high. According to Universities Canada, Mount Allison had the highest tuition fees for an undergraduate in the country during 2019-2020, with fees at $8770 CAD for the year. This is excluding any costs associated with textbooks and other supplies, which often cost an additional $1000-2000 per year when purchasing new ones. 

As a fourth-year Canadian student, I paid $7,995 during my first year for tuition. With this year's fees rising to $9,165, tuition has risen 15% during my time here. Students entering their fifth years would be paying 18% more than they did in their first year.

With the COVID 19-pandemic in play, many courses are being moved online. I am aware that each course is different, but it is very fair to say that online classes do not even remotely give the same experience as in-person ones. Most of my classes during the rest of the winter and this summer have been exclusively reading and independent assignments: to put it bluntly: teaching myself. No student should have to pay more than they already did this past year to essentially teach themselves a course. Only one of my online classes involved lectures, and even then, online lectures do not allow for the same sorts of class discussions and participation as in-person classes do. In addition to most courses being online, many students pay for many in person campus services, such as the Wellness Centre, the Library, and the Academic Advisors, but only so much can be done remotely, and continuing any services exclusively remotely is not adequate use of their money.

Furthermore, with COVID-19 in play, the economy is doing poorly, and many students have been unable to secure summer employment in order to pay rent, tuition, and other expenses. Many families of prospective and current students, as well as students themselves, are likely struggling to feed their families, let alone being able to pay tuition, residence and other university fees. 

I do not wish to exclude international students in this. While the future is uncertain, it is extremely likely students not currently in Canada will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival to Mount Allison, and it is also quite possible Canadian students from outside Atlantic Canada will need to do the same. While a necessary health precaution, this already creates a negative university experience, especially for new students. Imagine moving to a different country for school and spending your first two weeks not seeing another human being. Surely this is already a terrible situation to be in. However, to make matters worse, Mount Allison has kept tuition fees for international students more than twice those of Canadian Students at $18,490 for the year. The cost of flights has increased significantly during the pandemic, and many international students are likely to be struggling financially this upcoming school year, especially those who are actively coming to Mount Allison from their home countries.

This time of COVID-19 is already very stressful for many Mount Allison Students. The last thing we need is a tuition increase. I encourage all of you to sign this petition, share it, and contact the university administration to express how you feel.