In June 2020, the GSA launched a Fall 2020 survey to gather graduate students’ input about Fall 2020. A total of 258 responses were recorded with representation from various departments, student groups, and program types. Thank you to all students who took the time to fill out the survey and to tell us your thoughts about this upcoming semester and what you will need to be successful. As we outlined initially, the GSA has been sharing your feedback with senior university administrators at the various committees we sit in, as well as with government officials to ensure that graduate students’ concerns and priorities are voiced and incorporated in the Fall 2020 plans. As the University starts to release detailed Fall 2020 plans in the coming weeks, we are anticipating to see many of your concerns be addressed. View an executive summary of the Fall 2020 survey and the detailed survey results below:
Overall, graduate student respondents are nervous or very nervous about Fall 2020 term (54%), while some are confused and uncertain about what would happen in Fall 2020. For most, COVID-19 has impacted and changed their study plans.
Most graduate students plan to live off campus in Canada at the start of Fall 2020 (85%), and use transit to get to UCalgary campuses and facilities (51%).
Most academically employed graduate students are willing to work as a TA and RA in person with safety measures in place (53%), while large percentage is not sure (24%).
The choices are split evenly between the three delivery methods: in-person, online, and blended when respondents were asked what the best suitable method for Fall 2020 term is for their program.
Further analysis from the qualitative questions revealed that 59% of respondents and TA/RAs had a challenging time transitioning from in-person to online delivery in March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 33% of respondents had a positive experience with the transition. Key challenges were the lack of in-person engagement and connections and the lack of access to resources, facilities for hands-on work. Meanwhile, those respondents who experienced successes with online delivery attribute it to the effort put in by professors, faculty, and students.
Top concerns for Fall 2020 blended delivery method are:
- For in-person interactions: safety measures to prevent contraction and spread of COVID-19 on UCalgary’s campus;
- For online learning: the lack of communication and engagement, decrease in quality and impact, and the loss of access to necessary physical workspace, equipment, and resources.
Besides those concerns, some respondents noted the opportunities of online learning were accessibility and safety from COVID-19.
The most impactful support UCalgary could provide to graduate students include (from most to least mentioned):
- Financial support e.g. UPass or public transportation bursaries, decrease in tuition and fees, increase in funding, complementary parking, and technology budget
- Allowing in-person classes, experiments and access to labs, facilities for hands-on research work
- Safety protocols and equipment to prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19 on campus
- Online delivery options to ensure student safety and accommodate programs that don’t require in-person work
- Access to in-person resources that can’t be accessed online such as libraries, study space
- Adjustments to current programs to reflect the online learning environment
- Consistent and swift communication updates about Fall 2020 for all students to arrange accommodation, transportation and study plan
- Health and wellness support
- Training and technology support, especially for TAs, RAs, and professors to get accustomed to new tools of teaching and learning
- Access to professors, peers, community and personal support system to ensure personal and academic success
- More TA and RA job opportunities
View the full Survey Analysis here