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Post-secondary students grapple with decision on whether to return to school: students’ group

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With school just a few weeks out, post-secondary students are expressing their concerns. Some are even choosing not to return due to financial burdens. Brittany Rosen explains. – Aug 12, 2020

With school just a few weeks away, post-secondary students are expressing their concerns. Some are choosing not to return due to financial burdens and changes to the lesson plan.

“We’re coming off a summer where the job market basically evaporated, and there’s a number of constituent groups of students that haven’t been able to access financial supports,” said Bryan de Chastelain, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

CASA is a federal advocacy group in the post-secondary sector that represents 365,000 students across Canada.

In May, the organization conducted a nationwide survey, which reported 30 per cent of students in Canada were considering or had already deferred the fall semester.

Read more: Ontario post-secondary students preparing for hybrid learning

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“It is fair to say a substantial number of students are really trying to rethink whether the fall semester is going to be the right call for them,” de Chastelain said.

Durham College student Vic Corbett, who is studying to become a 911 dispatcher, is one of those students.

Corbett says in addition to health and safety concerns, her expenses are also keeping her from returning to school in the fall.

“My program at Durham College is going hybrid, so I’d have one or two days of in-class [sessions],” said Corbett, who currently lives in Sault Ste. Marie.

“Since I live so far away, I’d have to pay rent to go to school for two days a week.”

Impacts of decreased enrollment can already be seen by the closure of a satellite site for Durham and Centennial colleges in Pickering.

Read more: Durham educators call for more inclusivity in wake of George Floyd’s death

Durham College says while international enrollment has gone down, domestic enrollment is similar to last year.

Elaine Popp, vice-president of academics, says the college is also working with students to address concerns.

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“Whether by phone, whether by live chat, whether by email, we’re here to answer your questions and we’re ready to welcome you in the fall,” she said.

Popp also says Durham College will be launching a website this week, which will have additional resources for students “to help them feel more prepared and hit the ground running.”

Read more: Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party to make remarks on back to school plans in London

As for Corbett, she says she’s concerned her quality of education would be impacted if she chose to return to school in the fall.

“Especially since I’m going into emergency services, I don’t want to feel like I’m getting less education than I feel that I need.”

Federal student organizations like CASA say they’re still advocating for the needs of students, including extending student loan programs and enhancing internet service in rural areas.