Compensation for loss of value of the Master programs
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Spanish version (pdf) unsigned: see or download here
English version (pdf) unsigned: see below or download here
To: Oriol Amat, Dean of the Barcelona School of Management, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (BSM-UPF) and to the Academic Directors of all the master programs
From: The BSM students, course 2019-2020 (see signatures).
Dear Dean, academic directive and coordinating teams of the BSM-UPF and all other potentially involved parties. We hope and trust that you and your families are healthy, well and safe during this unfortunate and difficult times.
As we are all aware, due to the COVID-19 health and social crisis, some restrictions and social changes have been imposed in almost every country, in an effort of each countries’ government to take control of the situation and minimize the pandemic. This affects society as a whole and especially several sectors, including the academic sector that has been particularly affected, since the ways of teaching and studying had to be drastically changed. We believe that we, the students, are the most harmed by the changes in the academic sector and would like to highlight the various damages that we are suffering, therefore we bring to your attention following statements:
1. We fully understand that the current situation we are living is caused by a global pandemic and by the governmental measures imposed to counter it, and thus the BSM-UPF cannot be held responsible for the situation. We also understand that the University is trying to mitigate, to the extent possible, some of the harm that we are receiving as students. However, while the solutions offered are, to some extent, helpful, we identify a clear loss of program value (both monetary and instructive) and we also believe the university should understand, that this is not fair to us and not according with the program we purchased and paid for.
2. Although the BSM-UPF is trying to maintain class normality as much as possible with the online classes, following the restrictions imposed by the government, this is far from optimal, since we are encountering the following:
a. Connectivity and other technical issues affecting the quality of the sessions for all or some of the students, or in other occasions for the professor, in which case the class has to be dismissed midway before the scheduled time has elapsed.
b. Difficulty to follow the classes and program outlines, compared with physical classes, due to a frequent poor quality of sound or image, or simply because the ambience of a classroom is lost due to not being physically there and that affects both our performance and the professors’. In some cases, an extra difficulty caused by being in a very different time-zone also applies.
c. Inability of some professors to deliver effective online lectures, due to the technical limitations. Some professors have a very dynamic and class-immersive teaching style that we realize would work perfectly in a face-to-face session with constant interaction, but severely underperforms in a remote session, even with the built-in tools of the ‘Collaborate’ software, because the tempo is lost.
d. Difference in personalized treatment due to having all student-professor interactions in remote. As much as the professors try to be reachable and helpful (and we greatly appreciate their effort), it is just not the same thing.
e. A reduction of the number of live classes, since some are now asynchronous, with the subsequent loss of contact and dynamics of a class.
3. Aside from the loss of quality of the class sessions and the face-to-face factor (and all the benefits that come with it), there are several other services that we students have paid for, that we are unable to receive or utilize during the rest of the academic year. These include:
a. Access to the UPF facilities, such as the libraries, the study rooms, the classrooms, etc.
b. Access to the UPF resources, such as the library books, the faculty computers, some research tools, etc.
c. Class outdoor activities and BSM-careers outdoor activities, such as visits to companies’ offices or other similar culturally and professionally enriching activities and experiences.
d. BSM-careers guiding activities. Even if these could be held remotely, the same issues as with the online classes would apply. (see points 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d aforementioned).
e. Networking events with other students of the BSM and the UPF, with former students (alumni) and/or with some companies HR professionals and potential recruiters. Even if these could be held remotely, they would be highly ineffective, as quality would be compromised due to the online nature, causing inability to fully connect to the other persons at the same level as in a real networking event.
f. The difficulty of accomplishing the internships of the master program on time, since many companies discontinued all recruitment, making it harder or impossible to complete the internships before December 2020.
g. The masters’ graduation ceremony, which is supposed to be a unique event acting as a culmination of completion of the Master Program. While the recently announced virtual graduation represents BSM-UPF’s intention to make up for this loss, the event cannot offer the same value as a real-life ceremony; this is both in terms of monetary and sentimental value. This event is not only an official convocation to celebrate the achievement of a milestone, but also holds a social and emotional value for students, their families and groups alike, that is not perceived equally in a virtual representation. Furthermore, holding a later celebratory event in the uncertain future is a commendable gesture from the university, however, it is important to note that not all the students may be able to attend the event, especially international students.
As a result of all the aforementioned reasons, we would like the BSM-UPF to consider the below requests:
I. A partial refund as a compensation, in the amount that the university considers appropriate, just like other renown universities have made (see appendix).
a. As stated in point one (1), we understand the university is not responsible for the situation, however, it has an obligation to deliver reasonable quality based on what the tuition (and other fees) we paid for account for, that cannot currently be met. Compensation must therefore be offered to mitigate the issues at hand.
b. We also understand that part of the price are taxes and that some minimum and maximum prices per credit are regulated by law, but we know that the university has margin of action over their prices and can partially compensate us for our loss in quality.
c. We may be open to other or additional compensation methods suggested by the university, if we consider them to be fair and acceptable.
II. That the BSM-UPF grants us access to some online complementary materials, that could partially compensate for the loss of access to the libraries.
III. An extended and flexible timeframe for completing the internships of the program, with the same support from the BSM-careers office we were supposed to receive during the initial academic year.
IV. In case some international students require assistance to extend their visas/NIEs/TIEs, and if the university can assist, support from the university for the same; only of course to the extent to what is possible.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
BSM students, 2019-2020
Appendix: references for various universities in the world offering partial refunds:
In the UK, a petition to the parliament to force university refunds has been risen, that counts with about 12.000 supporters in just 4 days and will receive a response from the government (more info here)
In the United States, as published by the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, over a dozen universities, such as Harvard University, MIT, Ohio State University, University of South Alabama, University of North Carolina, University of Minnesota, University of Maine, University of Nebraska, and New York University have granted students a prorrated refund. The School of Visual Arts in New York stands out, offering half of the course fee. (click here to see the article).
Not needing to go that far away, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is also offering partial refunds due to Coronavirus in some cases, that students can request here.
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