Concordia Announces Fall Semester Will Take Place Online

Carr Hopes Online Delivery Will Be a Richer Experience Than Last Semester

File Photo Brian Lapuz

It’s official.

Students, staff, and faculty were advised today that Concordia University’s fall semester will be delivered almost entirely online.

In an email to students, Concordia’s president Graham Carr put a positive spin on the grim news, writing that online delivery means the term will be “accessible anytime, from anywhere in the world.”

The phrasing may be an overture to international students, whose tuition fees are much higher than those from other categories.

The news brings a degree of certainty, even as many students fret that online courses might not provide the quality of education they demand from their studies. It remains to be seen how this feeling will impact enrolments.

The announcement comes after two other Montreal universities made similar announcements—Université de Montréal on May 8 and McGill University on May 11.

In a May 1 message, Carr had warned the administration was in “deep planning mode” and that it “might have to deliver the term remotely.”

The move online will have exceptions. Courses with a strong hands-on element, such as those involving labs or studio work, are expected to take place in person. However, students who do not feel comfortable will not be forced to attend.

Grad students will begin to regain access to research labs on May 25, and restricted access to the library’s physical collection is slated to begin during summer.

Courses are not the only element of the student experience moving online. The university is also developing virtual orientation and welcome-back events, according to Carr’s message to staff and faculty.

According to the same letter, student residences will be closed through the upcoming academic year. Accommodations are being found for the few remaining students in university residences who cannot go home.

To help professors cope with the new reality, faculty have been promised guidance and technical assistance from the university.

Many students expressed frustration in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdown owing to radical inconsistencies between professors in handling the sudden move online.

One bachelor of commerce student told The Link in April that one of her professors said if she didn’t like the way he transitioned the course online, she could drop it. “I feel professors did not feel obligated to provide an adequate transition,” she wrote.

Carr hopes a coordinated strategy will alleviate previous shortcomings.

“Our goal is to transform our online course delivery to provide students a much richer learning experience than we were able to under tight time constraints in the winter term,” he wrote in the staff and faculty letter.

Carr also promised expanded services to students, such as more online mental health counselling and virtual mentoring exchanges.

At least one petition demanding lower tuition fees has circulated in response to today’s news, exceeding 1,000 signatures as of publishing time.

Students can expect surveys in the coming weeks asking for their input in the preparations.