Hundreds of students are signing a petition asking Red Deer College to lower tuition fees for the fall semester, because of a “worsened learning experience” created by online instruction.
Organizers say the majority of students did not apply to the school with the knowledge they would be taking online classes, so they are asking the college to make some accommodation by reducing tuition payments.
The Change.org/RedDeerTuition petition was started five days ago and contains 1,400 names so far.
Last week, college officials announced the fall semester will be delivered online only, and there will be no classroom learning available, to limit the spread of coronavirus.
While many students feel this decision is understandable, and even commend the college for giving them adequate notice, they also believe they will have a “worsened learning experience” because of no time spent in classrooms or labs.
“Like any business, a change in product should mean a change in cost,” said the petition organizer, who declined to be named, fearing repercussions.
”For many students, their home is not a safe learning environment, nor do they have quality internet/computer access. For others, their education relies on in-person labs and practicums” — which, he said, haven’t yet been addressed by college officials.
“I respect the college’s choice to move classes online,” he added, “but I wholeheartedly believe that the online courses are not worth the same cost.”
RDC president Peter Nunoda said on Thursday that he does not feel the learning experience will be reduced when the college goes online in the fall.
“I am confident that our faculty are well-equipped to provide a fantastic online learning experience for our students to help ensure their success in their studies,” said Nunoda.
He wants to assure students “that the quality of education they will receive online this fall is the same as it would be in a traditional classroom setting.
“For this reason, RDC will not be reducing tuition for the fall semester,” Nunoda added.
However, he acknowledged the added financial strain caused by COVID-19 on many students, saying “we offer flexible payment options” and have supports, such as a student food bank, as well as bursaries, scholarships and awards.
The petition-signers were unconvinced their education will not suffer.
“Tuition fees should absolutely reflect what we are getting — which is instruction through a computer into our homes. Why should we be paying for the building, the library, a classroom, field trips, presenters, etc., when we aren’t receiving any of that?” said Crystal Saunders.
RDC student Aidan Carroll said he signed “because I believe this is only fair.”
Carroll was expecting to receive “quality face time with instructors, in the form of small class sizes and meetings during office hours,” when he registered.
“I know my ability to do well in my classes will suffer from the content being delivered online.”
Student Keara Grovet believes online education “doesn’t even compare to in-person classes, so we shouldn’t be paying the same amount of money for less of an education.”
Petition organizers plan to collect 2,000 names prior to presenting it to the college.
This is the second petition that was started this spring because of recent decisions made at RDC. Students are also collecting signatures to have the theatre studies and film acting programs re-instated after they were cancelled last month.