Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Student Q&A: How the pandemic affects fall term at NAIT

Answering your questions about tuition, grading, campus access and more

By now you’ve probably heard that NAIT will continue offering virtual learning when the fall term starts in September.

The decision to teach programs virtually wherever possible was made with student and staff well-being at heart given the coronavirus pandemic. There’s no question a pivot this big presents challenges and has many students wondering how this will affect their education.

Earlier this week, Dr. Sue Fitzsimmons, vice-president academic and provost, invited students to submit questions about fall term. She spent much of the day on May 21 sharing her video replies on NAIT’s Instagram. Here’s a look at what she had to say. You can also watch the entire series below.

Q: Will tuition be reduced? Why is tuition going up when classes will be virtual?

Sue Fitzsimmons: There will be no difference in tuition between virtual and in-person courses. No matter how NAIT’s education is offered, we promise the same learning outcomes. You will be taught by industry experts and you will earn a credential that supports your career success!

Will the entire fall term be virtual? What about winter?

This fall we plan to offer classes primarily through virtual means with limited opportunity for hands-on learning in a few programs. We’ll be able to provide more details in early June. We will evaluate our approach to winter term in the next few months, based on where things are at with Alberta’s relaunch plan.

When will I find out if my program or courses are offered virtually?

You will hear from your program within the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience as we sort things out.

How will we interact with our instructors and class?

NAIT instructors are using a few different platforms including Moodle, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In a recent survey we heard from over 4,000 students and many of them told us that virtual learning and teaching is going really well and they feel connected to their instructors. Still, we have plans to get better!

When will NAIT campuses reopen?

NAIT is in the process of planning a gradual return to campus, aligned with Alberta’s relaunch strategy. We’re excited to come back, and at the same time we know a staged, carefully planned return is necessary for the health and safety of our staff and students.

What grading system will NAIT use?

NAIT will be using percentage grades for the fall term.

How does this affect international students (can I study from my home country)?

International students starting in the fall will be able to complete up to 50% of their program from abroad without impacts to their post-graduate work permits.

Will we still have to pay all our fees such as for the UPass, gym, etc.?

We’re still in the process of making decisions about specific fees. There are many factors to consider and we’re still gathering information.

What happens if the province returns to normal?

As Alberta slowly reopens, NAIT will evaluate what’s possible on our campuses. We’re committed to continuing each class the same way it begins. We want to make sure students can plan with confidence and know what they’re signing up for.

What will happen for trades programs like culinary arts or carpentry?

Trades education is governed by Apprenticeship and Industry Training, or AIT, which is a department within the Alberta government. NAIT is working with AIT to finalize plans for apprenticeship students. We’ll provide more information as soon as we can.

Online is hard. Students aren’t as motivated to study at home.

It is hard to work virtually. NAIT instructors are here to support you and they’re working hard to make sure your classes are interactive and help you gain experience in your field. We also have an online course that helps students learn how to learn in a virtual setting. For me, it helps when I stick to a schedule, get out of my pyjamas, and take regular breaks. You can do it!

Should I delay coming back until everything returns to normal? Can I defer my admission until winter term or when campus reopens?

That’s a tough question to answer. My advice is if you’re feeling even a little inspired to start or continue your education, give it a try! You’ll find lots of amazing instructors and student supports at NAIT. Contact us to learn more about your options if you’re considering delaying. We’re here to help!

When does fall enrolment open?

Fall enrolment opens July 2!

Still have a question?

Check out NAIT’s COVID-19 FAQ for students, which is updated regularly. If you can’t find an answer, contact the Student Service Centre.

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