Post-secondary students feeling impacts of COVID-19 academically, financially

Post-secondary students deal with impacts of COVID-19 pandemic academically, financially
WATCH: The results of a new questionnaire by Statistics Canada have revealed some of the early impacts felt by post-secondary students due to COVID-19. Danica Ferris has more on the numbers and how Lethbridge institutions are reacting.

The results of a questionnaire by Statistics Canada have revealed some of the early financial and academic impacts felt by post-secondary students because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data — released Tuesday — included the answers of more than 100,000 post-secondary students who responded between April 19 and May 1, answering questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their academic, labour market and financial situation.

How post-secondaries are preparing for fall semester
How post-secondaries are preparing for fall semester

Ninety-two per cent said they had some or all courses moved online, and about a quarter had courses cancelled or postponed.

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Ten per cent of respondents were not able to complete some or all courses, and 11 per cent said they couldn’t complete credentials as planned.

How post-secondaries are preparing for fall semester
How post-secondaries are preparing for fall semester

With uncertainty surrounding how post-secondary institutes will be able to deliver courses in the fall, Lethbridge College Provost and Vice President Samanth Lenci said it is preparing for all scenarios and has developed a three-phased approach.

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“We’re in phase one right now and we could stay in phase one, which means all blended,” said Lenci.

The first phase has all curriculum occurring outside the classroom, with only a limited number of employees and students on campus.

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“Our key experiential leaning pieces, our faculty are now taking apart their courses and they are figuring out what those key experiential learning pieces look like and how do we deliver them — if we can — in a blended format,” she said.

Lenci said the college plans to release the results of a student survey of its own soon, and results showed that many students found instructors more helpful once classes were moved off campus in March.

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“A lot of them are telling us that the faculty were more engaged,” said Lenci.

“They knew that this was a time to step up their practice and bring the students in and make sure that they had what they needed to successfully end the semester, and for some, graduate. So when we go into fall, we’re going to have the same attitude.”

Phase two at Lethbridge College will continue to be blended — and the campus will remain closed to the public — while phase three would see a complete re-opening.

How COVID-19 is affecting Canadian post-secondary students
How COVID-19 is affecting Canadian post-secondary students

As far as future concerns of students, the Statistics Canada results revealed that their financial situation was a worry for students.

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Nearly 70 per cent responded that they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about using up their savings, and roughly half said they were worried about taking on additional student debt.

Despite those concerns, Lethbridge College has actually seen an increase in applications and registrations in one particular area.

“Our domestic enrollment has increased,” said Lenci, who added that the college was putting a greater emphasis on reaching out to high school students and prospective students within 200 kilometres.

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“International [students] of course will be the one that has the biggest question mark at this point. I think that federal and provincial laws, travel, all of those restrictions are going to put that count — at least here on campus — in question,” she said.

Lenci said the college is working to offer alternatives for international students to continue their studies in their home countries for now.

The University of Lethbridge has also noticed a differences in enrollment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesperson for the university told Global News that the school has seen a 26 per cent jump in summer course registration for 2020.

READ MORE: Applying for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit? Here’s what you need to know

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The U of L is also prepared to offer a wide range of courses in the fall semester, planning for three potential scenarios, including the current primarily online format, and moving to blended and regular as health regulations permit.

For students with financial concerns, applications for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) open Friday.