UVic announces undergraduate classes will be “predominantly online”

Campus News
Graphic by Darian Lee

Many undergraduate students won’t be returning to in-person classes in the fall as UVic will provide “predominantly online” instruction. Further clarification will come with the fall timetable at the end of the month, but UVic has confirmed that a majority of undergraduate classes will be online. 

In an email correspondence with the Martlet, UVic Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs Denise Helm explained that “[UVic is] exploring if there are some in-person instructional activities that [it] could provide … where essential learning objectives cannot be easily replicated remotely.”

“[We] realize that students will have some very specific questions about courses that we may not be able to provide information about at this time.”

This statement comes almost exactly two months after UVic originally suspended in-person instruction and days after the province released their plans to transition B.C. to a new normal. Premier John Horgan indicated that post-secondary institutions would need to incorporate a mix of online and in-person instruction in the fall. 

“Our goal is always to deliver the first-class UVic education, regardless of the mode of delivery or mode of instruction,” UVic President Jamie Cassels said in a telephone call with the Martlet.

Research at the university is expected to gradually resume with physical distancing and other health and safety precautions in place.  The university is still investigating how graduate studies and essential experiential learning may be delivered in-person. International students that have obtained an appropriate visa will be able to take courses online regardless of whether they are in Canada or abroad.

Senator and International Student Alivia Wang asked President Cassels at a recent Senate meeting about the prospect of reducing tuition — particularly for international students. Cassels affirmed that tuition would not be discounted, as the quality of education will remain the same. 

“Financial issues are challenging for everyone,” Cassels said. “We are not looking at a reduction in the sources of revenue that we have budgeted for.”

He confirmed that there would be no discounts in tuition during a phone interview with the Martlet while expressing his sympathy for UVic students that may be facing financial hardship. Cassels also stated that he does not foresee tuition increasing outside of what was already approved by the Board of Governors in March.

The University will continue to provide resources for instructors to deliver online education. For instance, UVic’s newly released “Learn Anywhere” site offers online learning resources for students. Today’s announcement also hinted at creating new social and academic methods for connecting students remotely. 

UVic has made this historic move to transition classes online now so that everyone has the time they need to plan accordingly. Cassels emphasized that he appreciates the university community’s patience at this time. 

“We’re going to work with the other post-secondaries and the sector generally to develop a safe campus plan as we figure out how we can open up even further,” said Cassels. “I’ve been really appreciative of how the students have responded to this crisis.”