VCU students sign petition to reduce undergraduate tuition during pandemic

Petition to reduce tuition at VCU during pandemic

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Some VCU students have signed a petition to reduce undergraduate tuition at the university due to the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Sunny Lee created the petition in an effort to spark a conversation between school leaders and the student body.

While the university did freeze a tuition increase for the 2020-2021 year some students feel they should be getting money back during this pandemic.

“We are paying the same amount in tuition, but in additional fees, we’re paying more than in previous years for a quality of education that has not been in line with previous semesters,” Lee said.

It’s why Lee created the petition after seeing other universities like Hampton University, reduce tuition this fall.

The senior psychology major also said there are studies by other higher education institutions stating the need for this change.

“Two sources have shown that the quality of education is significantly diminished when it’s changed from in class to virtual and that they do believe the tuition fees should reflect that quality difference,” Lee said.

VCU spokesman, Mike Porter, said the school is offering courses in a variety of ways, including in-person, online, hybrid and blended.

“This variety provides students with an opportunity to select courses that meet their educational needs and individual health circumstances,” Porter said. “We are now about halfway through the in-person portion of the fall semester and we’re pleased that our community has taken safety guidance seriously by wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. All of these measures have allowed us to offer an in-person educational experience, which is what our students have asked for.”

This semester VCU is offering 8,431 total courses. Based on the various learning styles it breaks down as follows:

  • In-person: 3,937 (46.7%)
  • Blended: 435 (5.2%)
  • Hybrid: 998 (11.8%)
  • Online: 3,061 (36.3%)

Hybrid means more than 30% of the course time is spent face-to-face, and blended means less than 30% of the course time is spent face-to-face, according to Porter.

However, Lee said none of her professors were offering courses in person.

“I personally haven’t even stepped a foot on campus this semester because all of my classes are online,” she said. In turn, Lee has found it difficult this semester due to the lack of virtual lectures to teach new material.

“I’ve just been using power points and additional scholarly resources in order to teach myself,” she added.

Additionally, Lee said she’s putting more hours in this semester on top of working full-time compared to previous years.

“I’m spending at least three additional hours per day in order to kind of minimize that gap between in-person learning and virtual learning,” she explained.

With more than 1,140 signatures as of Friday afternoon, Lee hopes to draw more attention to this issue in order to speak with VCU leaders.

Additionally, Porter said VCU has distributed CARES Act funding to qualifying students with financial needs.

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