COVID-19: ‘Institutes can help by offering reduced fees structures’
By Sujata Shahi
NEW DELHI: Students are facing many challenges such as uncertainty about their exams and results, admission processes, entrance exams, reopening of campuses and the impact of this pandemic on their education and careers.
These are issues everyone is aware of and discussing on many forums but there is one issue that is not being highlighted enough – the impact of the economic downturn due to COVID-19 on students.
There must be many students whose parents have lost their jobs, or whose businesses have been affected resulting in a financial crunch for the family. Many parents must be wondering how to pay the education fees for their children. This is an important issue that we need to address and find a solution for in the coming times so that students do not suffer academically.
Lockdown and fees
What is the solution for students whose parents face financial difficulty because of the pandemic? The solution is complex but at the same time, quite simple. While the complex part of the solution would be to create new policies and ask the government for grants and subsidies for education. The simple solution can come from the institutes. Educational institutes need to be more committed to providing education to all our students. They must ensure that no one is left behind because of the financial difficulties their families may be facing because of the pandemic.
Educational institutes have to become more sensitive to the anxiety around the COVID-19 outbreak and the extraordinary challenges everyone is facing. In the prevailing difficult circumstances, educational institutes can help students by offering reduced fees structures and other benefits. Through more such initiatives, they can ensure that students can continue their education, and no one is left behind. IILM has decided to charge only the tuition fee for the academic year 2020-’21 and has waived the program fee. It has also decided to waive hostel fees, even when students return to campus.
Lockdown and learning
Another important thing that educational institutes can do till they are allowed to open and receive students, is to give special focus to students for the academic year 2020-21. Students need to continue their education even during these times.
Educational institutes must develop a growth mind-set and develop strategies and plans to do justice to their academic commitment and ensure that academic quality and rigour are not affected. They have to create a well-structured plan that covers all aspects of academics and student life.
It is imperative to give students the best possible online learning experience. To do this, educational institutes need to train their faculty members in the best practices of remote teaching through workshops and development programs. The need of the hour is a well- structured online program delivered by trained faculty members.
With the government still not allowing educational institutes to open, they must plan for the initial stages of this academic year to be delivered online. Online mode can be a rich experience when students interact freely with faculty and peers. This can continue till education is able to transition back, in a phased manner, to in-person learning with face-to-face classes on campus.
The transition will happen. Online classes can never replace face to face classes or campus life. But we have learnt a new skill, an extra dimension that we will continue to use to enrich learning by combining online and face-to-face components. The new normal in the field of education will be blended learning and while we embrace that, we must also ensure inclusive education and aid to students so that no one is left behind.
Dr Sujata Shahi is Vice-Chancellor of IILM University
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