Students for Winter 2022 Exchange!
Students for Winter 2022 Exchange!
McGill has chosen to make the difficult decision of cancelling all exchanges for the Winter semester of 2022. The cited reason in their communication to the relevant students was “public health landscapes, vaccination numbers and health regulations [that] continue to vary widely from country to country.” Following this reason, McGill University has chosen to cancel all exchanges for that semester.
Unsurprisingly, this has raised more than a few eyebrows among students. Further considering the university has noted that “deadlines to make arrangements for an exchange or independent study away are approaching quickly.” This, however, actually only implicates a limited number of exchanges. Some, taking place in different academic calendars in the host university (e.g. with a semester starting in March or April), in fact, do not have deadlines approaching all too quickly. Considering the varying start dates of some exchanges, it seems ludicrous to take a final decision now, with some planned to occur in a whole other 6 months.
McGill has chosen to take away a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from hundreds of students because of widely differing public health situations in partnered universities. It begs the question, why are students, whose host university is situated in a controlled and safe region, also deprived of a healthy and safe exchange? Why are students in different conditions punished equally?
Bloomberg cites 8 countries that are faring better than Canada in terms of Covid resilience, and another 20 that have a comparable resilience. The World Health Organization shows a decrease in cases and deaths globally, stating that “the number of newly reported coronavirus cases fell in the last week, continuing a declining global trend that first began in August” (CBCNews). Furthermore, between 8 other large Canadian Universities, none have yet cancelled their outgoing Winter semester exchanges (University of Toronto, University of British Colombia, Queen's University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Montréal, University of Ottawa, HEC Montréal, Concordia University).
In fact, Concordia University has permitted exchanges within the limits of travel restrictions specific to each host universities’ country this same Fall semester. Even allowing students to choose whether they would accept online classes from their host institution—a choice McGill has taken away from its students. This last consideration is even more nonsensical as the university cites “many unknowns [and] logistical challenges” surrounding online learning abroad. As a matter of fact, countless universities (including some in Montréal) have allowed online study abroad terms, deeming their students mature enough to choose for themselves which option was more to their liking. It is not for McGill to choose for its students which experience they should prefer, considering there are many variables for each student that may tilt the balance to one side or the other.
Finally, in June of this year, the Canadian government re-iterated encouragement for studying abroad from Canada further strengthening Concordia University’s stance on outbound exchanges.
When such a change involves so many students, it would have been wise to warn said students of a potential situation reversal, as well as including them in the discussion. In conclusion, the decision taken by McGill University appears inconsiderate and rushed, particularly considering that it currently stands alone with this statement in the sea of other large Canadian universities.
(By Juliette Debray and Max Garcia)
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