The Coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we go about our day: shopping, eating and most importantly for this article it changed the way we learn. In the course of one weekend, we for example, as students of the German School of Guatemala, had to change our whole routine and transition to online school and it wasn’t just us, the whole world and its students had to do the same. While this is extremely hard judging from a psychologic or pedagogic view, it has become a real burden from an economic position. Students around the globe are starting to wonder whether schools and other institutions should start giving back to them.
In England for example, students were starting to show their nonconformity towards colleges, to which the government responded quite aggressively stating that students are not entitled for a reimbursement if they are still receiving the same quality of education in online classes. However, some students consider the tuition fees to be frankly insulting. Jake, an accountancy student in Leeds stated that the fact that Universities are making their students pay full tuition is simply unfair. He argues that he pays the tuition to be taught in person and to do use of the facilities, like the library and sport facilities. One of the things that infuriate the scholars the most is paying for housing and meal plans that will probably never be reimbursed.
Across the world things are not that different, American students are just as angry about the situation. One of the things that disappoint them the most is the fact that their beloved Colleges, on which they have spent thousands of dollars, are not supporting them at all. Since most of the institutions have not complied with any of the requests of the student body, they saw no other solution than to exert pressure on the administration, threatening not to pay the tuitions anymore. Some of them are even going to extreme measures like suing, and even though legal experts say they might not get a lot out of them, students feel the need to do something to make the administrations notice. The lawsuits argue that colleges have failed in providing educational services. One of the strongest arguments is that Universities costs need to reflect some of the realities. It is important to note that these kinds of actions are a last resource to most students after weeks of asking in the proper manner.
There is a lot of examples across the U.S. At the University of Chicago about 500 undergraduates are planning to withhold their payment this semester. Nonetheless some Colleges are complying with the requests, The New School in New York has agreed to expedite the timeline of housing and meal plan refunds.
However, there is also a lot of schools that do not count with the endowments to stay afloat during this crisis. Some small colleges and schools which are heavily tuition-dependent fear the possibility of going bankrupt, a few project losses up to a 100 million dollars. And while we know that students are angry, some faculty members feel annoyed too. Peter Lake, the director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, Law and Policy at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida expresses his feeling toward students suing their colleges, he says: “Students are trying to claim that there was some contractual obligation to provide them something, that in the end, wasn´t provided.”
Students at these institutions are not protesting because they feel like it, but because they really need that money and spending it on a school or university that they are not attending in person is not an expense worth paying. They truly feel betrayed by their alma maters, it is not fair that an establishment that has asked so much of them, is not giving anything back in times of crisis.
I understand that, just like any other business, schools and colleges run out of money too, which is why reimbursing tuitions to each, and every student might have terrible repercussions on such institutions. However, current unnecessary expenses like housing and meal plan-money would be a viable way to return some of the money. I do think that schools and universities all over the world should consider lowering their tuitions for the sake of themselves, we do not know how long this crisis is going to last, sooner or later students and parents won’t be able to afford to keep paying full tuitions. Slightly lowering these would not only take a weight of the students’ shoulders, but it would also prove that the institution listens to them and reassure that they are not alone in this, which is something we all need now. As a student planning to study abroad, these are the kinds of things that I and all of us should have in mind when choosing a college: how far is the university willing to go for its students and how supportive are they of their student body?