Students and faculty are dealing with stress, social isolation and lack of institutional support
Students, faculty and academic librarians feel the quality of post-secondary education in Ontario has declined since COVID-19 forced the switch to online learning, according to a new poll.
The poll, commissioned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and conducted by Navigator Inc., found 62 per cent of students and 76 per cent of faculty feel the adjustments have negatively affected the way students learn.
“These results demonstrate that meaningful engagement between students and faculty is fundamental to the learning process,” said the president of OCUFA Rahul Sapra in a statement. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the scramble to move courses online, we have lost that human connection and educational quality has suffered.”
The most common concern among students and faculty is the lack of interaction and engagement that is possible through a computer screen and how that impacts the way the content is delivered.
Other concerns include mental health, financial strain, pressure to maintain responsibilities outside of school and the overall quality of education.
Students and faculty are looking to Ontario’s universities and government to provide the necessary additional support.
The OCUFA has suggested ways to improve education and address the burnout many are experiencing, such as reducing class sizes by hiring more full-time faculty, lowering tuition fees and investing in better resources.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Ford government has stood on the sidelines and watched as university students, faculty and academic librarians struggle,” said Sapra. “It is time for the provincial government to step up, set an example, and invest in Ontario’s underfunded universities so that they can improve the educational experience and help students and faculty succeed.”