Most Chinese students in Canada dislike online learning amid pandemic: report

OTTAWA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) — Nearly 70 percent of Chinese students said they greatly or somewhat dislike online learning at Canadian universities, according to the latest report by Easy Group.

Less than 10 percent of students felt positively about online learning, with less than 5 percent enthusiastic, said the Disrupted Fall Semester of 2020 Survey Report.

The report focused on a survey that was administered to 389 Chinese students during the summer of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The students either have been enrolled or previously intended to enroll in a Canadian university for the upcoming fall 2020 semester.

The survey looked at their opinions on a number of topics, including online learning, tuition reduction and mental health.

Eva Wu, the spokesperson for Easy Group, told Xinhua on Sunday that respondents to the survey represented 12 different Canadian Universities, though this representation was not evenly distributed. Easy Group is one of the largest international student education companies operating in the Canadian marketplace.

Online learning posed significant difficulties and anxieties, especially among Chinese students who speak English as a second language. Wu said the opportunities for comprehensive immersion in a foreign language and culture are a significant part of the appeal of studying in a foreign country, and these advantages may be diminished, or even altogether lost, on a virtual campus.

Despite their misgivings about online learning, Chinese students have for the most part chosen to remain enrolled for the coming fall semester.

Just under a third of those polled will be moving to Canada to enroll as more traditional students.

Meanwhile, 57.5 percent of students are enrolling at Canadian Universities despite the fact that they will remain in China for at least the first semester of their studies.

Only 10 percent have chosen to opt out for the year, and the overwhelming majority of these students are seeking a deferment, in hopes of a return to normal that will allow them to pursue their Canadian educational dreams as originally planned.

Less than 10 percent of incoming Chinese students felt that it was reasonable for Canadian Universities to expect them to pay the same amount of tuition for classes administered online, irrespective of the portion of their education accounted for by online learning.

A majority of students said a shift to half- or full-time virtual learning without any sort of commensurate reduction in tuition would negatively affect present or future decisions to enroll.

Those whose universities have shifted completely to online learning are forced to forgo this important component of the student experience, while those who are able to enroll in person are worried that campus life will have been irrevocably altered, at least in the short term.

Notably, concern over general safety showed a higher correlation to worry about a perceived rise in anti-China sentiment, a concern that Canadian Universities may want to specifically address with their Chinese students.

“Further, with 49 percent of students now holding a more negative view of Canada in general, significant work remains to be done to improve and repair Canada’s image in the eyes of Chinese students,” said the report.

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