University of Lethbridge students seek refunds, petition to move entire semester online

Click to play video: 'U of L students push for classes to remain online entire semester'
U of L students push for classes to remain online entire semester
WATCH: Last week, the University of Lethbridge was among several post-secondary institutions to announce the extension of its alternate delivery model of online learning until Feb. 28 amid the ongoing surge of new COVID-19 cases. Now, students are asking for more certainty when it comes to the rest of their semester, and they want refunds for services going unused. Eloise Therien has more. – Jan 18, 2022

Students at the University of Lethbridge are raising alarm bells over the school’s decision to keep most classes online until Feb. 28, which would leave just five weeks of in-person instruction for the rest of the semester.

Carleigh Jackson, who’s in her third year of studies, said many students, herself included, are seeking certainty when it comes to planning the rest of the school year.

While she doesn’t prefer online learning to an in-person experience, she believes cutting the semester in half is only making things more difficult.

“Doing half of the semester online, and then going to an in-person delivery (is) confusing. It doesn’t make sense,” Jackson said. “It’s hard for a lot of students’ living situations.”

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An online petition was started last week, outlining concerns being felt by the student population.

Its main asks include moving the remainder of the spring semester online where possible, extending add-drop deadlines for classes, refunding the cost of the UPass — a mandatory transit membership for students — and moving examinations online.

“The decision to not make a decision has left those who don’t ordinarily reside in the city of Lethbridge or the surrounding area with even more uncertainty as assuming in-person classes resume as now scheduled, those students will be coming to Lethbridge for only five weeks of in person classes and final exams, an amount of time that may not be worth the stress and cost of moving for some students,” the petition read.

Click to play video: 'Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge update COVID-19 policies'
Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge update COVID-19 policies

Craig Smith, whose daughter attends U of L, said she’s had trouble with her on-campus housing.

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“The first problem is the internet is brutal,” he said.

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In addition, she initially thought one of her labs would be held in-person, prompting her to move back to Lethbridge after the holidays. However, that wasn’t the case.

“After the New Year, she gets back up to Lethbridge to discover that that lab has gone back online,” he said.

The university’s regular housing policy states written notice “must be completed and received by Housing Services on or before the last business day of the previous month to make the notice effective for the last day of the following month.”

This means when Smith’s daughter provided notice at the beginning of January after finding out her studies were fully online, she was told she would still have to pay for January and February in full.

The university currently has 915 residence students, with approximately 400 on campus.

“Plus (she’s) breaking their contract, so there’s a $400 fee attached to that as well,” Smith added. “It seems a bit unfair to students, especially with the price of university. I mean her university year is close to $18,000 a year.”

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However, in a statement to Global News late Tuesday afternoon, the university said it has changes its refund policy when it comes to housing.

“After reviewing refund policies in light of the ever-changing COVID-19 situation, the university will issue refunds for those who choose to leave residence,” the statement read.

“The refunded portion will be pro-rated to the number of days remaining on their housing contract once they have notified the university and removed their belongings.”

School officials could not provide further information into potential refunds for UPass or parking services.

Click to play video: 'Open letter calls for flexibility in University of Lethbridge course delivery'
Open letter calls for flexibility in University of Lethbridge course delivery

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