Posted: April 30, 2020
Wilfrid Laurier University acknowledges the disruption and financial hardship that the COVID-19 health crisis has had on many people, including students.
The move to remote instruction has been one of the most significant adjustments for Laurier students and has given rise to numerous questions, many about the incidental fees being charged for spring, intersession and summer courses.
The university offers the following information to help address your questions about incidental fees.
It’s important to clarify the difference between online instruction and remote instruction. Courses created specifically for online instruction have been collaboratively designed by a content expert (normally a faculty member) and an instructional designer and digital media and educational technology specialists. Online course development is guided by instructional design strategies and makes use of pedagogically led technology. Online courses are intentionally developed for instructors and students to be separated by space (location) and/or time (often both).
Remote instruction, as the term is used here, uses technology-enabled tools and software to facilitate course delivery when in-person instruction is not possible in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Remote” instruction is not directly comparable to “online course” instruction. The difference is not in the quality of the content, but in the design of content delivery.
The university, along with Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), conducted a thorough review of all incidental fees. While some fees have been reduced for the spring, intersession and summer terms, others will still be charged for services that have moved to remote delivery. Some incidental fees necessary to maintain the physical space also continue to be charged, as do those that are needed to ensure that programs can continue when there is a return to campus. Examples include the following.
This fee funds courses designed for online instruction, as described above. The Online Learning Fee does not apply to courses that were originally designed for in-person delivery, but have been adapted to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 crisis.
This fee funds critical infrastructure and programs that prioritize the well-being of our student population. Similar to periods when there are fewer students physically on campus, during this period of remote learning our student leaders are still working, but in a remote environment. These leaders are tasked with reforming our service offerings while preparing for a range of fall-term scenarios, including the potential for creating valuable resources online.
During this period of remote learning, the social programming fee supports online opportunities for students to connect socially with their peers and classmates. Recognizing that community is an important aspect of the postsecondary learning environment, the Students’ Union is attempting to replicate opportunities to unwind through online entertainment. At the same time, it is important that student leaders maintain the ability to transition back to more normal social programming when a return to campus is announced.
At Laurier, community support and global engagement is at the heart of who we are and what we do. ISOW and the WUSC student refugee program are humanitarian commitments toward global citizenship through education. This commitment, made by our students through a referendum, is even more important during this time of global crisis.
The Sustainability Fee funds the university’s Sustainability Office, which opened in 2010 following a student referendum. It employs two full-time staff who continue to work remotely.
The Independent Student Media Fee supports nine student publications that are continuing to provide information from a student perspective.
Mental health services are an important support for students during this unprecedented crisis. Services continue to be offered remotely to those who need it.
The university acknowledges the current events are stressful and that students have been impacted financially. To help our students successfully complete the current semester and spring, intersession and summer terms, a number of supports are being offered. They include: one-time bursaries and work-study bursaries that have already been awarded; some incidental fees have been reduced for these terms; and a Remote Learning: Student Support Hub has been created to provide support in three key areas: academic, mental health and staying connected.
As we move forward, the university’s priority will continue to be the health and safety of the Laurier community. We are working closely with public health authorities to determine when and how to facilitate a safe return to classrooms.
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