Students sue top US universities over switch to online courses

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: May 06, 2020, 10:39 PM(IST)

Harvard University Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

They claim-- online learning compromises on the quality of education.

Online learning may be fun but not when students have paid a fortune for a campus experience. Students of at least 26 US universities have sued their schools.

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They are demanding a partial refund of tuition and campus fee. They claim - online learning compromises on the quality of education.

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What these students paid for was campus learning. They paid for the infrastructure, the labs, the libraries, and the gyms.

But now--- they are all sitting behind their computer screens. Sure the students are earning term credits. But a college experience is not limited to that.

College is about inter-personal experiences. Interaction with faculty and classmates building contacts.

Students are frustrated with online classes. Some point out that the lectures are not live. Professors often pre-record videos and there are no discussions.

Lawsuits have hit some Ivy League schools like Brown, Colombia and Cornell.

Public schools too have not been spared. Students have sued the University of Purdue, Colorado and the University of Chicago.

Most of these schools argue that the classes may be online--- but the professors remain the same. Some schools 'have' returned portions of housing and dining fees.

But the majority of them refuse to refund tuition or campus fees. Colleges say the coronavirus has posed financial strains in their systems.

Some estimate losses up to $1 billion a year. Is the pandemic ushering in the end of big universities?

If Harvard was granted $9 million for coronavirus aid alone imagine how much money the United States pumps into the campus every year?

 It may be impossible to continue this supply of funds. Not with an impending recession. Plus these institutions have been caught in controversies.

A 2019 scandal exposed how admission to these campuses are not always based on merit.

Fewer foreign students

Top universities are likely to also see a downturn in student enrollment. The coronavirus has instilled a sense of fear in people. Would foreign students want a return to campus?

The trend of foreign education was ushered in by globalisation. It was nurtured by a stable global economy, accessible students loans, job availability and friendly visa policies.

The pandemic is hammering all of these. So, will top universities be the collateral damage in the post-pandemic world?

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