Nova Scotia

Some CBU students concerned over decision to move to online-only learning

Some Cape Breton University students are questioning the effectiveness of online learning and whether they will be charged fees for services they can't use now that classes will only be offered virtually this fall.

From missing out on the student experience to the quality of learning, students have many concerns

Cape Breton University student Mareena Mathew worries she will not learn as much from virtual learning as in a classroom. (Submitted by Mareena Mathew)

Some Cape Breton University students are questioning the effectiveness of online learning and whether they will be charged fees for services they can't use now that classes will only be offered virtually this fall.

Student union president Amrinder Singh believes the university is keeping the health of the students and the community in mind, but said he also feels for the students.

"It's really disheartening for the students who were going to join or come back in the fall," said Singh.

He said the international students who are in Cape Breton aren't getting the full experience they had hoped for at the university.

On Tuesday, the university announced the move to online-only classes this fall amid COVID-19, making it the first university in Nova Scotia to do so.

Amrinder Singh is the president of the Cape Breton University Students' Union. (Cape Breton University Students' Union)

Ayush Tandon arrived in Cape Breton in January 2020. He said he was excited to attend school in Canada.

"Making friends, talking to the professors about studies and future prospects, but now because of COVID-19, it has all been slowed down," said Tandon.

Mareena Mathew is taking business management at the university. She worries she will not learn as much through online learning.

"I was going to learn some skills, especially relating to supply chain. So if there are no classes, then I'm completely going to miss that on a first-hand basis. So, I guess the quality of the learning will be compromised," said Mathew.

She also worries her grades will be negatively affected by online learning, which could affect her ability to get a job in her chosen field down the road.

Jenny Le is in her second year of the hospitality and tourism program. Originally from Vietnam, she said English is her second language and online learning just adds another layer of difficulty to her studies.

Cape Breton University was the first university in Nova Scotia to announce a move to online-only learning for the fall semester. (CBC)

"It's harder to get access to help. Usually, I'd just stay back in class and ask my professor or ... go to the office, it's easier to find help on campus instead of online," said Le.

The university has said students will continue to have access to all traditional supports. A working group is looking at the challenges of moving to online-only learning and coming up with solutions.

Fee concerns

Another worry on Mathew's mind is student fees. Normally, students attending university would pay a variety of fees, such as lab fees, campus activity fees and technology fees. With students not being on campus, Mathew questions if they will be charged for services they can't use.

She noted international students pay more in tuition than domestic students, so a break on fees would go a long way.

Singh said students will not be charged lab fees for summer classes because students will not be using the labs.

Officials with the university said they are reviewing all fees and tuition, but a decision has not yet been made.

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About the Author

Jennifer Ludlow

Associate producer

Jennifer Ludlow is an associate producer and technical director for Mainstreet Cape Breton and also works as a reporter. All tips are welcome. Contact her at jennifer.ludlow@cbc.ca