Tuition Reduction at uWaterloo for Spring 2020

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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Waterloo has shifted all course activity to an online delivery platform. While we support the administration’s efforts to protect student health and wellbeing, there are significant concerns about the value and quality of fully online program delivery.

As part of its ongoing efforts to mitigate financial barriers to pursuing post-secondary education in Ontario, the University of Waterloo Graduate Student Association (GSA) believes that tuition fees for the Spring 2020 term should be reduced to reflect the rapid shift to distance education courses.

In April 2020, the GSA polled its membership on the academic and financial impacts COVID-19. With nearly 900 people surveyed, the following results were significantly poignant:

  • 28% of respondents reported decreased income as a result of the ongoing pandemic;
  • 55% expressed concern with their finances during the Spring 2020 term;
  • 30% believe they will no longer graduate on time due to changes in the Spring 2020 term;
  • 46% were uncomfortable with classes being fully online (21% were indifferent);
  • The quality of an online delivery format was the primary concern of respondents; and,
  • 45% believe the suspension of on-campus activity has already affected communication with their supervisor (50% reported no change).

The impacts of COVID-19 and the switch to fully online program delivery impacts both research and course-based students. Accordingly, we call on administration to lower tuition rates for all students (graduate and undergraduate) in order to reflect the reduced value and quality of academic programs resulting from the transition to a fully online setting. Further, this reduction in tuition should reflect the significant financial issues students are set to endure as a result of changes in employment status.

Lastly, it is particularly important to note that international graduate student tuition is increasing next term despite a shift to online learning. Given that international students already pay significantly higher tuition, we call on the University of Waterloo to suspend the planned tuition hikes and reduce both domestic and international student fees.