Ontario colleges and universities are preparing for online learning come September given that normal classes may be uncertain or disrupted in the event of another outbreak.
While professors have quietly been told to keep lessons online, it remains unclear if that will cause a dip in new enrollment and returning students, who generally view online learning as substandard, especially when it comes to labs and hands-on courses.
With Ontario’s own deadlines also approaching in June, colleges and universities are unsure what will happen.
Will students want — or even be able to afford — tuition and accompanying fees when they aren’t getting the full, on-campus experience? Petitions demanding breaks have already started online. Will international students come in large numbers?
The province previously announced a $25-million fund to help with COVID-19 costs and has also temporarily suspended student loan repayments and interest until the end of September, matching a move by the federal government to give stressed students some relief.
Whatever happens, it looks like online education will be a reality going forward and change is looming for universities across the world. Here in Canada, it may mean the closure of many smaller colleges more reliant on international students given very low domestic enrollment. Thousands of faculty members and staff at colleges across the land face an uncertain future if colleges start to close over the next few years.